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AoS3 - Soulblight Gravelord Discussion


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lol, with a sanguine blur hero zombies can basically charge up to 15" in the opponent turn xD
world woar z shananigans ensue. ALSO the CA text lowkey confirmed that a retreat is not a normal move in 3.0 so go bloodknights

Edited by Raptor_Jesues
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6 hours ago, Evil Bob said:

are you going to try any 60x zombie shenanigans?

Matt Heafy screams: iiinnnn waaaveeees… 

always retreat, always redeploy 

 

my opponent is going to hate me, when the mob is going back and forth, while Granny keeps the unit in place with some wolves… 🥳👍

but the new ruleset is going to cause a mess, while everybody needs to settle in.

fun times ahead

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60x Zombies is going to be a nightmare for coherency but pretty strong on almost every other level. The fact that most of our units don't need and, in fact, don't want (for coherency / maneuverability reasons) to be reinforced makes this much more viable, though.

 

With lots of min units around, another consideration for zombies that I am tinkering with is should you use multiple smaller units of them to see if one can snowball; it's a lot easier to wipe out a small unit, especially if you send in zombies with a hero or something to bat cleanup if needed, meaning the chance of one unit just adding stupid amounts of zombies over the game is now higher as a wave of those gribbly little piling in jerks could actually produce a huge unit by the end if you just roll up several 5/10 strong enemy units.

 

Or, as happened in the game I play last night, you pile into a unit of already partially decimated horrors with buffed zombies. I literally did not have enough zombies for the result.

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13 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

So I just finished doing a more detailed read-through and oof, I'm sorry that you guys got hit with petrifax syndrome on the bloodlines. Upside is the other ones aren't BAD but still it sucks when one is so clearly better than the others.

This was my initial take when reading the tome, but the more time I have spent with it the more I think that the opposite is true. At first I thought the Vyrkos abilities are obviously better because both abilities are very strong in a vacuum, and most of the other faction abilities are either weaker or redundant. Kastelai looked good too because of battleline Blood Knights.

This analysis broke down for me when I started to really dig into listbuilding. For one, the soulblight factions are not like the OBR factions in that there is no shared pool of command traits and artefacts, and no mandatory artefact or trait choice. When you look at the complete list of abilities and artefacts, each subfaction has something interesting to offer.

Legion of Blood has very meh battle traits but it does have access to Soulbound Garments which are a great combo with Neferata. There are some other good artefact and command trait choices as well.

Legion of Night has decent battle traits and access to the excellent Morbheg's Claw, multiple excellent command trait options, and some respectable secondary artefact choices.

Kastelai Dynasty's battle traits are a bit of a question mark. The deep strike ability is good but less good than Legion of Night, and I really don't know how good Might of the Crimson Keep is. Battleline Blood Knights is fantastic though, and there are some good command trait and artefact choices... just nothing that stands out quite like Morbheg's Claw or Soulbound Garments.

Vyrkos Dynasty's reroll ability is way worse than it seems. Overall the vampire spells suck. The only vampire spells that are really worthwhile are the Mortarch's spells, Vhordrai's spell, and Belladamma's spells. Of those only Belladamma can benefit from the rerolls, and with a built in +1 and access to tons of other bonuses she doesn't really need the rerolls all that much. The Sangsyron artefact is good, but only on the VLoZD and I'm not sure there is room for one of those in the top builds. I could be wrong on that though. Pack Alpha is one of the best command traits though.

The only subfaction that I'm really not sold at all on is Avengorii, but I could be wrong on that.

Overall I think that Legion of Blood Soulbound+Neferata combo is a little overrated (there are plenty of ways to get +1 save), but it's still powerful. I could see Night, Vyrkos and Kastelai all providing top tier builds.

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I think it's way easier to field Core Batallions with Vyrkos than with e.g. Kastelai. Warlord in Vyrkos is VLoZD, Belladamma, Necromancer/VL which all provide good utility in such a list. Kastelai doesn't want any Hero under 10 Wounds (apart from maybe Belladamma, but feels a tad out of place). So Kastelai pays Sub Commander Tax, while Vyrkos does not. 

Edited by AHexInScarletRed
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Vyrkos is spoiled on command traits and artifacts too. In particular Pack Alpha is worth 2 extra CP every round, and all of their artifacts are solid save the phylactery. Re-rolling casting is extra powerful for SGL since they double cast on a 9+, and they have some good spells to work with. Invigorating aura, blades of shyish, soulpike, and amaranthine orb are all good spells. Then there's the bonus to wound which is meh on zombies, but nice for wolves/skeletons and grave guard really really like.

And even that is just part of the picture, because of Vyrkos' fantastic special character lineup. Volga's spells are fantastic, Annika & Kritza punch well above their weight between offense and durability while requiring no support and Radukar the Beast is just awesome. IMO VLoZD would be a huge mistake--take the Coven Throne with Pack Alpha; +1 to hit, to wound AND to saves for a round is among the best command abilities in the entire game. Even basic skeletons become a serious threat when they are 2+/3+ and a 4+ save. Or slap it on Radukar to put his 12 attacks at 2+/2+. Or both, because you are getting two free command abilities every round you can certainly afford it whereas for a normal army that would be most to all of their CP.

Edited by NinthMusketeer
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2 minutes ago, AHexInScarletRed said:

I think it's way easier to field Core Batallions with Vyrkos than with e.g. Kastelai. Warlord in Vyrkos is VLoZD, Belladamma, Necromancer/VL which all provide good utility in such a list. Kastelai doesn't want any Hero under 10 Wounds (apart from maybe Belladamma, but feels a tad out of place). So Kastelai pays Sub Commander Tax, while Vyrkos does not. 

I definitely think Kastelai wants Belladamma. Maybe not all builds, but she really isn't out of place (at least in a competitive sense). Her role is to mess with the opponent's movement, shut down ranged units/unleash hell, and perhaps to provide some buffs. She can actually keep up with BKs too due to her speed. I'm also not sure that Vyrkos wants a Necromancer any more or less than Kastelai does. Kastelai lists could easily end up running some Zombie blocks for objectives purposes, and there are several excellent Deathmages spells that work well for any subfaction.

 

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2 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

Vyrkos is spoiled on command traits and artifacts too. In particular Pack Alpha is worth 2 extra CP every round, and all of their artifacts are solid save the phylactery. Re-rolling casting is extra powerful for SGL since they double cast on a 9+, and they have some good spells to work with. Invigorating aura, blades of shyish, soulpike, and amaranthine orb are all good spells. Then there's the bonus to wound which is meh on zombies, but nice for wolves/skeletons and grave guard really really like.

And even that is just part of the picture, because of Vyrkos' fantastic special character lineup. Volga's spells are fantastic, Annika & Kritza punch well above their weight between offense and durability while requiring no support and Radukar the Beast is just awesome. IMO VLoZD would be a huge mistake--take the Coven Throne with Pack Alpha; +1 to hit, to wound AND to saves for a round is among the best command abilities in the entire game. Even basic skeletons become a serious threat when they are 2+/3+ and a 4+ save. Or slap it on Radukar to put his 12 attacks at 2+/2+. Or both, because you are getting two free command abilities every round you can certainly afford it whereas for a normal army that would be most to all of their CP.

I kinda disagree with you on the artefacts, and strongly disagree with you about the spells. Invigorating aura does not get doubled because only Lore of Vampires and Lore of Deathmages spells get doubled, and it belongs to neither lore. I'm also not a fan of Blades of Shyish or Soulpike. Soulpike is OK, but you can't stack it more than once on the same target and your opponent has complete control over whether it triggers. It's useless against any enemy unit that doesn't care about being in combat, and it's useless against units that you've already charged. So basically the only good targets for it are: enemy units within 18" during your hero phase that you don't plan to charge that turn but will definitely need to charge you during their next turn. That's a pretty limited criteria, and even then it's only doing 3-4 mw on average which isn't that much. Blades of Shyish is just very minor chip damage. Orb is OK but the range is so short and even then you really need to line up at least 3 enemy units in order for it to be a significant amount of damage.

To me the special character lineup is completely irrelevant. I agree that Radukar and Belladamma are both awesome units, but you don't have to be Vyrkos to take them. Radukar barely benefits from being in Vyrkos at all as he isn't a caster. IMO Radukar is arguably better buffing Blood Knights in Kastelai. Belladamma is great in any bloodline. She is a little better in Vyrkos for sure, but it's hardly necessary to make her good. Annika and Kritza are both mediocre in terms of offensive efficiency but I do think they could see some play, particularly Kritza. But again, they barely benefit from being in Vyrkos at all.

I totally agree that Pack Alpha is awesome. IMO it's a bigger reason to go Vyrkos than the rerolls to cast.

There are also some flaws in your analysis that I can't discuss until the full rules are released but suffice to say it's not a big deal.

Anyway, the TL;DR is that I completely agree that Vyrkos is awesome. What I disagree with is that it is vastly better than the other bloodlines (like Petrifex was with OBR) to the point where the other bloodlines aren't worth consideration. I think that there is a very real possibility that the other bloodlines can put up lists that are just as competitive if not more competitive (metagame depending) than Vyrkos. It's possible that Vyrkos is the best bloodline, but I think not by such a degree that the others should be ignored by competitive players.

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I vaguely remember the rules changing at some point stipulating that Hand of Dust can't have it's range extended but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Am I misremembering this? If not, does anyone remember where that errata can be found? I'm not seeing it on Nagash's current warscroll, which makes me think we can Hand of Dust through spellportal again.

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The benefit is they all count as being the general, which with the new standardized command ability ranges puts them to 18" instead of 12" which is a huge increase in area covered, and they also bubble out the +1 to wound buff onto deathrattle & deadwalkers. I did miscommunicate on the spells; I did not mean to say they double cast everything and that is on me for being ambiguous. But moving on to the lores, spells that would be too close range for many casters are fire for vampires since they either don't mind or actively want to be in melee.

 

But really the Vyrkos buffs are just one side of the coin. Legion of Blood is right out for being so situational; plenty of armies just don't care about battleshock, and plenty more aren't inflicting hit or wound penalties in any significant way. Legion of Night's first ability is nearly useless because it only applies round 1 and only to part of the army, while both it and Kastelai suffer in getting half their bonuses tied up in a deep-strike mechanic that anything summonable already has by default. That said I do think Kastelai is the Mortek Praetorians of this metaphor where it isn't far behind the lead, due to the strength of niche builds it can produce. But it is still putting in a bunch of work to make an army as good as a Vyrkos one can be just for showing up, and is much more gimmick reliant. Avengorai... I dunno, it just seems like a poor man's version of Gristlegore.

It's not like they are actively BAD it is just the bonus Vyrkos offers between re-roll casts and that command trait are too much for the others to match.

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12 hours ago, AHexInScarletRed said:

I think it's way easier to field Core Batallions with Vyrkos than with e.g. Kastelai. Warlord in Vyrkos is VLoZD, Belladamma, Necromancer/VL which all provide good utility in such a list. Kastelai doesn't want any Hero under 10 Wounds (apart from maybe Belladamma, but feels a tad out of place). So Kastelai pays Sub Commander Tax, while Vyrkos does not. 

I think even Kastelai will want at least one big block of capturing infantry. They are just so cheap in Gravelords that you really can't afford not to take them. And that opens up a role for one of our small support heroes, too. 20/30 Skeletons plus a Necromancer seems like a solid investment in Kastelai.

Or just take Kritza. Actually I think the role that Kritza now fills after reinforcements is pretty hilarious: He's this small, stinky rat vampire that refuses to go away and who will show up in everywhere so that people can fill Warlord. He's like the annoying friend who inserts themself into all your activities, whether you want him around or not.

7 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

Then there's the bonus to wound which is meh on zombies, but nice for wolves/skeletons and grave guard really really like.

Just to preface this: I have been working on Vyrkos lists since (before) the tome dropped, and used to believe a lot of the things you wrote about, but don't anymore. In my opinion, Vyrkos is good, but Kastelai is probably the strongest subfaction (since it Blood Knights are probably the best unit in the book and Kastelai supports them the best).

For example, +1 to wound looks like a very good bonus, but barely anyone actually benefits from it. Skeletons deal no damage either way and zombies deal their damage through mortals. The only buffs that matter on these two are +1 attacks. Direwolves also deal no damage (even less now with the new coherency rules) and get +1 to hit and wound on their warscrolls on the charge. Since +1 to hit/wound don't stack anymore, they barely benefit. The only unit that really does something with the +1 to wound buff are Grave Guard, for all else it's just incidental value.

7 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

IMO VLoZD would be a huge mistake--take the Coven Throne with Pack Alpha; +1 to hit, to wound AND to saves for a round is among the best command abilities in the entire game. Even basic skeletons become a serious threat when they are 2+/3+ and a 4+ save. Or slap it on Radukar to put his 12 attacks at 2+/2+. Or both, because you are getting two free command abilities every round you can certainly afford it whereas for a normal army that would be most to all of their CP.

Pack Alpha is great, but other command abilities are definitely worth considering. Driven by Deathstench, Spoor Trackers and Hunter's Snare are all good, too, and don't require you to bring a Coven Throne (which a lot of people are still iffy on, me included).

I also think I need to point out that basic skeletons are manifestly not a threat, even at 2+/3+. Here are 20 Skeletons with all the bonuses vs. 10 Grave Guard with nothing:

Save   Grave Guard   Skeletons
2+ 6.67 1.85
3+ 8.89 3.7
4+ 11.11 5.56
5+ 13.33 7.41
6+ 15.56 9.26
- 15.56 11.11

Only getting 1 attack really kills the potential of skeletons to absorb any buffs other than +1 attack. For what it's worth, they can be a threat if you put Vanhel's, the free +1 to wound from Vyrkos and +1 attack on them. You might want Vanhel's on them anyway for the extra heal, and if you charge Radukar the Beast into the back of whatever is attacking them, you can get the +1 to wound and attacks.

 

8 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

Vyrkos is spoiled on command traits and artifacts too.

I don't know, I don't see a good use for most Vyrkos artefacts, myself.

The Phylactery is not very good, since it's now pretty easy to get Deathless Minions already.

Cloak of the Night Prowler gives +3" pile in, but not pile in from an extra 3" away. so somewhat less good.

Sangsyron is solid.

Vilnas' Fang is kind of badly conditional. Once per battle, +1 to charge for other vampire heroes on the battlefield. If you bring a necromancer, that will realistically be a once per battle +2 to charge or worse. Which is OK, just not that exciting.

Terminus Clock is fine. I think if I get a second artefact, that will probably be my go-to, since you can slap it on a support hero and still make good use of it. Standard of the Ulfenwatch seems OK, too, since there will be more command points being spent in AoS 3.

The big problem with these artefacts, in my opinion, is that the best ones (Sangsyron, Vilnas' Fang and Cloak) all want to be on a big damage dealer hero. But you get maybe one of those that can actually take an artefact per Vyrkos list (probably zero if you bring a Coven Throne). Your other heroes will probably be Radukar, Belladamma, and a small support guy, none of which make good use of them.

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Aren't Skeletons pretty self-reliant with the Unit Champion apparently being able to give them All Out Defense and Rally? Even if we put one Necromancer, we still miss a second Sub Commander for the Warlord Batallion - which we should probably ignore when playing Kastelai. As somebody pointed out, a Vanguard Batallion with a Necromancer (or a VL, since the +1 Attack probably does more) and a block of 60 Zombies could be worth it in Kastelai, too. 

E: Yeah, filling with Kritza is definitely an option. Ignoring the Vanguard Batallion and instead making that Warlord is tempting, although I'm not quite sure if that's better than just going Prince V + either VLoZD or Coven Throne, as we don't need the second Artifact that badly on a small hero. 

Edited by AHexInScarletRed
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5 minutes ago, AHexInScarletRed said:

Aren't Skeletons pretty self-reliant with the Unit Champion apparently being able to give them All Out Defense and Rally? Even if we put one Necromancer, we still miss a second Sub Commander for the Warlord Batallion - which we should probably ignore when playing Kastelai. As somebody pointed out, a Vanguard Batallion with a Necromancer (or a VL, since the +1 Attack probably does more) and a block of 60 Zombies could be worth it in Kastelai, too. 

E: Yeah, filling with Kritza is definitely an option. Ignoring the Vanguard Batallion and instead making that Warlord is tempting, although I'm not quite sure if that's better than just going Prince V + either VLoZD or Coven Throne, as we don't need the second Artifact that badly on a small hero. 

Skeletons are more self-sufficient now, but the Necromancer still adds decent value.

The Necromancer gives you Vanhel's and a Deathmages lore spell. Also a source of Deathly Invocation for a bit of incidental healing. Vanhel's is good even if you only bring skeletons: Basically doubles their healing and damage output. You can put a situational Deathmages spell on him, too, like Decrepify, Spectral Grasp or Prison of Grief. Most turns you will probably try to cast Vanhel's, but these situational spells can be game changing in the right circumstances.

It's also worth noting that Enhancements are more than just artefacts, there are also extra spells and other stuff in there. I don't know if that will be relevant to most Kastelai lists, though.

I think the real question is whether you should try to go one/two/three drop in Kastelai. I think 4/5 drops will be the default in AoS 3, so you can probably fairly reliably get first turn if you go below that. Some of the new battle plans we saw feature a 18" deployment gap, which means Blood Knights have an OK chance of making a first turn charge if you build for it. I'm not yet completely sure how likely a charge is if you come in from the board edge (don't 100% understand the geometries of the new smaller table size yet), but maybe threatening a first turn charge both from the front and from the back will make it hard for the opponent to deploy like they want to. Might be worth considering.

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bit of a bummer on the coven throne not being able to use its CA more than once in the hero phase. This, i am afraid, leaves it at the meh level. Probably gonna swap it for radukar or a tax VL to take another battalion i guess

Edited by Raptor_Jesues
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Soooo.... the new Rally CA:

Half of my skellies die, I resurrect 50% of those back to the unit due to the units special rule.
If I use Rally now I would roll for all models that have died so far, right? 

Edited by JackStreicher
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Now that we have seen most of the new rules, here are my thoughts on the state of the faction for Gravelords. Credit to @Enoby for putting together this kind of list for Slaanesh, which I used as a base for my own:

 

Command points and abilities

Gravelords are a faction with lots of juicy command abilities and this change will let us use them more often. A lot of Gravelords lists don't mind going second, and can expect to reliably get ~4 command points per turn that way. Every lineage also has the option of running two or more generals, which makes it easier to secure these extra command points into the late game.

Command abilites now work slightly differently, in that they need to be issued and received, with a unit only being able to issue and receive one command per phase. Gravelords can take advantage of this in some cases. For example, Radukar the Beast can use a command ability to provide a +1 attack aura when he charges. In this case, he is both the source and the target of the command, even though other units benefit from it. This means it can be stacked with other commands, such as All-Out Attack on other units. And it can be even futher stacked with spells such as Vanhel's Danse Macabre if you want to.

Unit champions can now issue command abilities to their own units, which in the case of Gravelords means that (only) Zombies cannot support themselves. Heroes issue commands wholly within 12", while generals do so wholly within 18". Given that every gravelords list can have 2+ generals, this is not too bad.

Verdict: Overall, not good or bad, but a change to keep in mind.

New command abilities

All Out Attack, All out Defence, Inspiring Presence, At the Double, Forward to Victory, Unleash Hell, and Redeploy. I'll go through each of these.

All-Out Attack giving +1 to hit is a welcome additon for Gravelords, who mostly have bonuses that give +1 to wound.

All-Out Defense is going to be good for our tanky units that sit on a 3+ save naturally. Increasing a high base save is more valuable than increasing low base saves, so this ability does a lot of work on Blood Knights or our big heroes.

Inspiring Presence is now generally weaker, since you only get one per battleshock phase. This is good news for us, since Gravelords troops have high bravery and have access to bravery debuff abilities, so while we suffer a bit from this change, other factions suffer more.

At the Double now happens before you roll for a run, which is not particularly bad or good for us, just different. Not being able to auto-run 6" with more than one unit hurts our slow infantry, though.

Foreward to Victory is the same old reroll charges as it always was. We still have access to auto-charge 6" on some warscrolls, and some of our units like Zombies don't need to charge at all, so we are not as reliant on this as some other armies might be. Several subfactions also have access to reroll charge bubbles.

Unleash Hell is mostly a negative for us. It will make it harder to charge opponents without getting shot at. But, as mentioned, a few of our units don't need to charge (Zombies, Direwolves with Belladamma's command ability). This helps us play around this command ability. We have few good targets that can make use of it ourselves, but the Mortis Engine gets to trigger it's mortal wound explosion off of it at least. A Zombie Dragon could also use it for it's breath attack to deal a few mortals.

Redeploy allows you to move 1d6" if an opponent moves within 9" of you while your are outside of combat. This could variously move our units out of range of a charge or move a screen of Direwolves between our unit and the enemy, but on the flip side it will also make it harder to charge opponents. A wash, really.

Rally is a nice boost to our already solid healing abilities. The ability plugs a gap for us, in that it allows us to heal non-summonable units like Blood Knights. While it will have more consistent payoffs on units with lots of models, the payoffs are better on high-save, multiple wound units (since it returns models on a 6 instead of healing wounds like our other healing abilities). Especially nice in Kastelai, where you "upgrade" your units over the course of the game.

Verdict: Good!

Magic Phase Changes

There are a few changes to magic that are relevant for us: The changes to endless spells, introduction of miscasts and overhauled rules for Mystic Shield and Arcane Bolt

Gravelords don't have any faction specific endless spells, but with endless spells now being more controllable and impactful, they might be a good way to use the casts of our many wizards. The spells from the Lore of Vampires are not that good, but it's easy to end up with 3+ wizards in a list without even trying. Putting in a cheap damage dealing endless spell might be a good way to fill up points in a list.

Miscasts mean that when rolling double 1s to cast, your wizard takes 1d3 mortals and can't cast for the rest of the turn. Most of our casting is distributed over a bunch of 1 cast wizards, so the last part is mitigated a bit. But it's worth noting that this rule hurts Nagash most of all, since he's by far the wizard with the most casts per turn.

Mystic Shield is now another source of +1 to saves, which is great for us. Arcane Bolt is solid, too, giving you a 1d3 mortal wounds effect if you are within 3" of an enemy. You can trigger this once, but whenever you want after casting it. So you could cast this spell with your VLoZD and charge into something, easily dealing 2d3 mortals before combat from Arcane Bolt and Stomp. Or you could do the same for potentially 9d3 mortals with Nagash.

Verdict: Mixed bag, but overall good.

Coherency

This rule hurts us much less than most melee armies. Our horde infantry is all on 25mm bases, which means it is affected the least from this change. It can still string out and has only a little more trouble than before getting all attacks in.

Our cavalry units like Blood Knights and Black Knights already probably wanted to run in squads of 5 anyway, which means the coherency change does not apply to them.

Some of our large base units like Vargheists will have to run in min-size, but it's not a terrible nerf. They are completely capable of doing so, and two units of 3 might actually be better in a lot of cases than one of 6.

The only real loser in our tome are Direwolves. They will now cover a lot less horizontal distance when screening, and really wish that they could still run in packs of 5 like in LoN. Not all is bad, because with the new reinforcement rules, a high base model count can be an asset as we will see shortly.

Verdict: Good relative to other armies.

Reinforcement points

In AoS 3, you can only increase the size of your units a limited amount of times. Battleline get to reinforce twice, everything else once, with a limit of four reinforcements in a 2000 point game. This will overall mean more minimum sized units on the table.

Gravelords are in a great position here. We have a lot of good options for min-size units in Blood Knights, Vargheists and Dire Wolves (who, with 20 wounds on a min-size unit, will now be a very tough screen to deal with for a lot of other armies). Zombies come in packs of 20 at base size, which is great for objective control if we expect other infantry to most commonly come in packs of 5 or 10.

Skeleton warriors previously had to worry a lot about getting wiped out in one combat before getting to heal. A move towards lower unit sizes and more min-size cavalry units means that they will likely get to survive much longer now.

Between all this, Gravelords are poised to become an army that can beat most other armies in body count and absolutely swamp the (now smaller) playing field, while not losing much in terms of offensive power compared to AoS 2.

Verdict: Very good! Gravelords are a clear winner here.

Battalions

Warscroll battalions are now gone from matched play, replaced with core battalions. This is a good change for us because all our warscroll battalions were pretty bad.

However, we are mostly able to fill out core battalions fairly easily. At least one good archetype for Gravelords is to bring lots of power pairs (a hero and a unit of troops for it to support), which is what the new core battalions by and large reward.

Core battalions allow an army to gain command points, free activations of command abilities, enhancements and drop reduction.

Warlord and Command Entourage provide once-per-game extra command points and enhancements. Enhancements are command traits, artefacts, extra spells/prayers and triumphs. This is definitely juicy for Gravelords, who have access to a lot of good command traits and artefacts, many of which you wish you could take, but which are just a tiny bit worse than the stand out best one.

Linebreaker, Vanguard and Grand Battery provide once-per-game free command abilities which don't need anyone to issue them. One use for this is on a Zombie unit, which cannot usually issue itself commands since it lacks a champion, but can potentially get a free 6" run without hero support from Vanguard.

Battle Regiment is the only battalion that reduces drops, which in matched play determine who takes priority turn 1. It's worth noting that you have to drop the units in this battalion all at once and can no longer partially deploy. Overall, Gravelords can use this battalion well. It allows you to bring one big and two small heroes, which Gravelords can make good use of due to having access to many good, small support heroes (Necromancer, Vampire Lord, Belladamma, possibly the Wight King or the small Vyrkos). The disadvantage of having to deploy all at once gets somewhat mitigated by being able to deploy in the grave or off board. Overall, Gravelords have gained the ability to fairly effortlessly go low-drops, which is huge because the army frequently wants to go second to set up for an impactful double turn later. Alpha strike cavalry lists also seem in the cards now.

Verdict: Again, very good.

Hero abilities

One hero per side gets to use a heroic action per hero phase. In general this is good for Gravelords, since we have many impactful heroes who will benefit from this. Gravelords heroes seem especially good at making use of the healing action (which works off of bravery) and Finest Hour which gives another source of +1 to saves. Since we can bring multiple generals, it will also be easier to get the bonus to the roll for gaining extra command points from Heroic Inspiration (which moves to a 2+ from 4+ if your general has died).

Verdict: Fine. We benefit fairly well, but not exactly a lot more than other factions.

Monster abilities

Up to four monsters per side get to use a monstrous rampage at the end of the charge phase. We have some intersting pure monster options in Zombie Dragons and Terrorgheists, but even more importantly we have a few choices that fill all three roles that add extra value in 3rd edition: Hero, monster and wizard. This gives the VLoZD kit, Vengorian Lord kit, Mortarch kit and Nagash a nice power boost. These hero monsters can now easily get +1 to wound and saves and deal 2d3 mortals on the charge, allowing them to really bully the opponent.

Oh, and monsters capture for 5 by default now. Nice.

Verdict: Good! Free value for a lot of stuff you were taking anyway.

Battleplans

Not 100% confirmed this will be universal, but a smaller deployment gap now seems to be common in battleplans. This makes it possible for some of our units to get turn 1 charges. Again, the ability to deploy in the grave makes it so that we, in turn, can avoid being alpha striked of the table ourselves. It might even be worth considering Black Knights again if they can reliably charge turn 1 with their 12" move, 6" auto charge.

Verdict: Need more info, but it does not look bad.

Points increases

While points are supposedly going up most factions, our points are already set to the standard of AoS 3. And they were not exactly unreasonably high before. This will probably mean that our point costs will be low in the new edition, relative to those of other armies.

Verdict: Great! Another are where Gravelords potentially win big.

Hit, wound and save capping

Gravelords do well out of these changes. Our faction did not rely on buff stacking before and our new battletome incentivizes a swarm play style, as opposed to a death star like LoN did. Our offensive units don't generally need more than one offensive buff to do well, and our high base saves mean that we can potentially have several units on a 2+ save most of the time (All-Out Defense, Finest Hour, Mystic Shield, Coven Throne CA, Soulbound Garments arefact...).

We also have access to several good offensive buffs that do not work through bonuses to hit and wound: Double taps, pile in and attack twice and extra attacks, which all stack with the +1 to hit or wound we can now get from various sources.

Verdict: Not a problem offensively, straight up good defensively.

----

So where do the AoS 3 changes leave Gravelords? Overall, I think we can now clearly say that our book is an AoS 3 book, not an AoS 2 book. A lot of the little details that did not quite make sense before are now coming together. I believe Gravelords benefit from the majority of rules changes in AoS 3. And the general consensus was that they were not even that weak before!

The big thing that remains to be seen is how well Gravelords handle shooting in the new edition. This was our weakness before (even in the old Vampire Counts days), and the new tome has very little anti-shooting tech in it. The new smaller playing field means we are potentially in range of shooting earlier and the new Unleash Hell command will definitely be a problem to overcome, rather than a tool to be exploited for us.

But as far as melee horde armies go, Gravelords are probably looking as good as they could reasonably hope in AoS 3. The army still has some challenges to overcome: Generally low damage, low mobility on a lot of units and the weakness to shooting mentioned above. But probably no other army is as good as swamping the battlefield and grinding out a victory late game as Gravelords at the moment. I think the future looks good for our vampire overlords!

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17 minutes ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

...
AoS 3 changes leave Gravelords? Overall, I think we can now clearly say that our book is an AoS 3 book, not an AoS 2 book. A lot of the little details that did not quite make sense before are now coming together. I believe Gravelords benefit from the majority of rules changes in AoS 3. And the general consensus was that they were not even that weak before!

The big thing that remains to be seen is how well Gravelords handle shooting in the new edition. This was our weakness before (even in the old Vampire Counts days), and the new tome has very little anti-shooting tech in it. The new smaller playing field means we are potentially in range of shooting earlier and the new Unleash Hell command will definitely be a problem to overcome, rather than a tool to be exploited for us.

But as far as melee horde armies go, Gravelords are probably looking as good as they could reasonably hope in AoS 3. The army still has some challenges to overcome: Generally low damage, low mobility on a lot of units and the weakness to shooting mentioned above. But probably no other army is as good as swamping the battlefield and grinding out a victory late game as Gravelords at the moment. I think the future looks good for our vampire overlords!

great analysis, i agree with everything you said with a pair of buts:
1- you forgot to mention that bloodknights are now S tier units due to retreat not being a normal move wich is dope
2- while we do not have shields against shooting we can somewhat mitigate it. Necromancers have zombie screening, troops come back, Kastelai, LoN and varghiests can be off the field and come in at very scary angles, even behind the lines wich is fairly nice. We have some artifacts against shooting but i agree with you that they are nothing amazing. So not great but it is ok. Also while the smaller field means we get in range sooner it is true for the enemy as well.
3- we actually have some respectable damage i would say, grave guards, bloodknights, dragon lords, radukar and prince V are all very nice damagers and our other troops can do nicely with some lovin.
 

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A bit of anti-shooting worth mentioning (again?  sorry if this has already been discussed at length) is fell bats.  Very fast, pretty cheap, perfect for charging in before other units to eat up the stand and shoot reaction.

On a less positive note, capping save bonuses to +1 really takes the wind out of shield-armed grave guard, before they even really had a chance to get going.  Great Weapon grave guard were already looking better regardless, but for a brief shining moment it seemed like the (imo much better looking) shield-wielding grave guard would actually have at least some value, at least some reason to consider taking them.  Sadly, it looks like we'll be seeing another entire edition where the unit might as well not even have equipment options.

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1 minute ago, Sception said:

On a less positive note, capping save bonuses to +1 really takes the wind out of shield-armed grave guard, before they even really had a chance to get going.  Great Weapon grave guard were already looking better regardless, but for a brief shining moment it seemed like the (imo much better looking) shield-wielding grave guard would actually have at least some value, at least some reason to consider taking them.  Sadly, it looks like we'll be seeing another entire edition where the unit might as well not even have equipment options.

Not so fast! I was thinking the same initially, but after looking a bit close I going Shields vs. Great Blades is a real choice.

My reasoning is this: If you are planning to buff your Grave Guard at all, then giving them +1 to saves should be a high priority, since they are so fragile otherwise. Since units can now only take one command ability buff per phase, that means if you give them All-Out Defense, they get no offensive CA buff. But a unit of GG with shields can take All-Out Attack instead. This makes their actual damage output very comparable:

Save   Grave Guard Great Blade    Grave Guard Shields, +1 to hit
2+ 6.67 6.48
3+ 8.89 8.33
4+ 11.11 10.19
5+ 13.33 12.04
6+ 15.56 13.89
- 15.56 13.89

Importantly, GG with shields still manage to cross the important damage threshold of 1 wound per model in combat at 4+, meaning that they will wipe units of equal size. If other offensive buffs are in play (Vyrkos +1 to wound, Radukar +1 attack, Belladamma double taps, Vanhel's), the difference between the offensive capabilities of the two units quickly become meaningless: They will both deal enough damage to kill basically anything.

The difference is that Grave Guard with Shields will always have their saves buff, even if the opponent roars at them. And you will not have to use Mystic Shield or All-Out Defense on them, leaving those for other targets.

The choice really depends on which buffs you think will be easiest to give them. My list is Vyrkos and brings Radukar, so I think going shields is the play. In another list, where you can't give your Grave Guard any damage buffs, Great Blades might be the way to go.

Also worth noting, capping saves happens after all modifiers are applied. So any save bonus high than +1 effectively acts like -1 rend: If you apply rend -1 against a save mod of +2, you are still left with +1 to saves. This is weaker than a straight save increase, but worth considering.

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2 hours ago, Raptor_Jesues said:

bit of a bummer on the coven throne not being able to use its CA more than once in the hero phase. This, i am afraid, leaves it at the meh level. Probably gonna swap it for radukar or a tax VL to take another battalion i guess

Mind sharing the article that suggests this? Not the first time I heard about it and I’m trying to find the source :) 

 

Good analysis @Neil Arthur Hotep

I wonder if the palisade will change to block shooting, or they just need to be in range. 
 

Bats were mentioned as a counter to shooting/UH. Could definitely work! If you can only use a CA once a turn as has been mentioned, you can either force its use from your opponent on cheap chaff, or tie them up and charge them with your big unit after, win win 

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1 hour ago, Raptor_Jesues said:

great analysis, i agree with everything you said with a pair of buts:
1- you forgot to mention that bloodknights are now S tier units due to retreat not being a normal move wich is dope

[...]


3- we actually have some respectable damage i would say, grave guards, bloodknights, dragon lords, radukar and prince V are all very nice damagers and our other troops can do nicely with some lovin.
 

Yeah, Blood Knights are super good now, for sure. Probably our best unit.

I think the damage on some of our units is good, but they are never really without downsides. For Grave Guard, you need to really work hard to get them in a position where they can do their job, since they are so slow and frail.

For the other guy, I think their problem is that they deal good damage against high saves, but only OK damage against low saves for their points. This will make it hard to deal with low-save high-wounds units, although the new reinforcement/coherency rules should make those less common. We will have to see if that's enough. Our staple battleline units definitely don't deal a lot of damage on the whole.

 

1 hour ago, Raptor_Jesues said:

also sorry for the double post but I am really REALLY HAPPY to not see 3+ (or even 2+) save naked dorfs eating a charge and barely blinking. My bloodknights would like a word with you lot

I'm glad that's gone, but I hope Fyreslayers get a new tome quickly. Hopefully, one that's actually fun to play against.

28 minutes ago, BrotherTalarian said:

Mind sharing the article that suggests this? Not the first time I heard about it and I’m trying to find the source :) 

 

Good analysis @Neil Arthur Hotep

I wonder if the palisade will change to block shooting, or they just need to be in range. 
 

Bats were mentioned as a counter to shooting/UH. Could definitely work! If you can only use a CA once a turn as has been mentioned, you can either force its use from your opponent on cheap chaff, or tie them up and charge them with your big unit after, win win 

Yeah, I think we will have to get more actual experience with the new shooting rules to see how they will affect the viability of Gravelords. My take is that in games against melee heavy armies if we pull off our strategy we will probably win, while those against shooting heavy armies we will have to put in the work to overcome their strategies. It's not like we have nothing that helps with shooting. We have deep strikes and ambushing, high saves on heroes, healing and resurrection on troops, harrassment units like bats and vargheists and some tricks like 6" pile ins or Belladamma's warscroll spell. But those are all mechanics that are unreliable or need some finesse. So I think games against shooting will be an uphill battle. But I don't think that's bad: Gravelords do not get destroyed by shooting without counterplay, it's just a weakness of an otherwise solid army.

EDIT: Also, this enhancement looks juicy for an army where basically all heroes are wizards:

Ghost Mist: Casts on a 5+ and causes a terrain feature to block line of sight.

Edited by Neil Arthur Hotep
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1 hour ago, BrotherTalarian said:

Mind sharing the article that suggests this? Not the first time I heard about it and I’m trying to find the source :) 

It's in the core rules. YouTube has look throughs. It's on the hero phase issuing commands page.

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1 hour ago, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

Not so fast! I was thinking the same initially, but after looking a bit close I going Shields vs. Great Blades is a real choice.

My reasoning is this: If you are planning to buff your Grave Guard at all, then giving them +1 to saves should be a high priority, since they are so fragile otherwise. Since units can now only take one command ability buff per phase, that means if you give them All-Out Defense, they get no offensive CA buff. But a unit of GG with shields can take All-Out Attack instead. This makes their actual damage output very comparable:

Save   Grave Guard Great Blade    Grave Guard Shields, +1 to hit
2+ 6.67 6.48
3+ 8.89 8.33
4+ 11.11 10.19
5+ 13.33 12.04
6+ 15.56 13.89
- 15.56 13.89

Importantly, GG with shields still manage to cross the important damage threshold of 1 wound per model in combat at 4+, meaning that they will wipe units of equal size. If other offensive buffs are in play (Vyrkos +1 to wound, Radukar +1 attack, Belladamma double taps, Vanhel's), the difference between the offensive capabilities of the two units quickly become meaningless: They will both deal enough damage to kill basically anything.

The difference is that Grave Guard with Shields will always have their saves buff, even if the opponent roars at them. And you will not have to use Mystic Shield or All-Out Defense on them, leaving those for other targets.

The choice really depends on which buffs you think will be easiest to give them. My list is Vyrkos and brings Radukar, so I think going shields is the play. In another list, where you can't give your Grave Guard any damage buffs, Great Blades might be the way to go.

Also worth noting, capping saves happens after all modifiers are applied. So any save bonus high than +1 effectively acts like -1 rend: If you apply rend -1 against a save mod of +2, you are still left with +1 to saves. This is weaker than a straight save increase, but worth considering.

Thanks for the breakdown! Looks like I made the right choice building 20 great weapons and 20 shields. Will likely be the way to go if you're running more than one unit of GG due to limited CA buffs

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  • RuneBrush changed the title to AoS3 - Soulblight Gravelord Discussion

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