This list is designed to maximise the the defensiveness of the Bonereaper army and being offensive through pure attrition. Whilst it may not lose that many models during a game it should hopefully still be an engaging army to play.
All units get a Deathless Warriors 6+ save against wounds and mortal wounds.
Bonereapers are immune to battleshock.
Command ability Unstoppable Advance gives units +3” move.
Bonereaper armies don’t use command points and cannot use command abilities from the core rules, GHB or realms. Instead the generate relentless discipline points mainly from heroes, battalions and some from units.
All units in the army get +1 to save rolls. Nothing to think about here, it just makes the army very resilient with most units on a 3+ save and the immortis guard and liege on a 2+
Disclaimer: This list is built with Petrifex Elite in mind as they are at least for now the best in a standard tournament format, but it could also work just as well with basically any of the other sub factions (except ivory host… just don’t).
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Bludgeon: Allows any unit to get an additional -1 rend for one combat phase. This is quite exceptional and can really turn the tide in a fight against high armoured troops however you need to select who will use it carefully and ensure you save enough RDP for it.
First of the Mortarchs: Arkhan’s command ability allows him an extra 6” on all spell casts. Useful if you’re not quite in the right position but it’s main use is to be able to cast aggressively with Arkhan turn one, get curse of years off on to a support hero for example.
Endless Duty: The Liege Kavalos can use this on units within 12” to grant +1 attack on all profiles for one phase. Really decent on Mortek Guard essentially adding 50% to their output. Other top contenders are the Archai with their 3 damage halberds and the immortis guard with 2 damage halberds but also their shields which do MW and can be used to pile in twice, these will do a surprising amount of work. In a pinch it’s worth using on Arkhan as he has four decent attack profiles.
The Command Trait and Artefact below are both given to the Liege Kavalos as he is the only eligible hero making him exceptionally durable.
Mighty Archaeossian: +2 Wounds to the General.
Godbone Armour. Ignore the first wound allocated to the bearer in each phase.
Arkhan. He is a multi aspect hero with four heals a turn, 3 casts and unbind a at +2 using any spell from the lore and is a mobile chaff/hero hunter. Knowing all the lore spells makes him very versatile being able to focus on defensive buffs, offensive buffs, debuffs or damage output.
Liege-Kavalos. Mainly there to buff units with command abilities he’s also very resilient with the command trait and artefact. His damage output is low but can has the ability to do MW based off his charge roll which can be helpful.
Mortek Guard. The lynchpin of the army these can be buffed in various ways to make them fulfil whatever role you need. They can put a surprising amount of damage out with Endless Duty, Empower Nadarite Weapons and Bludgeon making them have 3 attacks each 3+/3+ rend -2 Damage 1 with extra attacks on hit rolls of 5+!
Equally they can be very defensive with a 3+ Basic save (reroll in combat) buffed with mystic shield against shooting or anything striking first. 6+ deathless warriors save against all damage and Reinforce shields spell gives them a 5+ save against MW as well.
Immortis Guard. A surprisingly decent all rounder they have two attacks each 3+/3+ rend -2 Damage 2 and two weaker shield attacks which do MW on 6s to hit which can pile in twice. They have a 2+ save and 4 wounds each which is fantastic especially in cover (to essentially negate -1 rend) and with mystic shield. Their main use though is as hero guardians with the sworn protector rule allowing them to rake damage for heroes on a 2+. More on this later.
Morghast Archai. A fast and reasonably tough unit with a decent melee profile only let down by low number of attacks which makes them vulnerable to statistics and having the occasional bad roll. This can be alleviated with the Liege’s Endless Duty ability and +1 to hit from the shrieker. Mainly useful to harass lone heroes or weakly guarded objectives but can be used with other units to add extra punch.
Gothizar Harvester. A small monster that has a very good main melee profile with 6 attacks 3+/3+ rend -2 Damage 2 and a tail attack with 4 3+/2+ rend -1 damage 2. Also has the ability to heal models within 6” if any model friend or foe is slain within 3”. This is especially great on Mortek Guard essentially halving the Damage they take on average but can also be used against an alpha strike by positioning the harvester out of enemy range but still tagging each unit in your army! Worth noting that it can heal itself too so tag it behind your unit and within range of the enemy unit to maximise healing.
Contains the two units of Immortis Guard and the Archai. This gives the Archai the Soulbound Protectors ability to take Wounds for heroes on a 2+ but importantly it makes this ability also ignore any wounds or MW on a 5+ which significantly reduces incoming damage considering everything is already on a 3+ save or better and has a 6+ Ward and the Archai a 5+ MW save.
This now allows the Archai to follow Arkhan around at decent speed and act as his protectors, with 6 wounds each you’ll be able to heal damage back unless they’re really concentrated on. These both can be used as chaff removers or objective grabbers but mostly allows you to be aggressive with Arkhan, you can deploy him right on the front line safe from alpha strike and in game can push forwards to make the most of spells and healing where needed.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
Arkhan is a fantastic wizard with three casts and knowing all the Bonereaper spells he is very versatile. Also being able to extend his spell range by 6” can be invaluable.
Arcane Command. Gain D3 Relentless Disciple Points, really useful if you needed to use more than expected in your opponents turn or need some extra for movement buffs.
Empower Nadarite Weapons. A unit wholly 24” gains extra hits on a 5+ Instead of 6+. Not a bad buff for the Mortek guard, allows for some exceptional spike rolls and combined with extra rend can be devastating even just used on units of ten.
Protection of Nagash. Gives thecaster 5+ ward against all damage which dispels if failed and teleports the caster. Useful to get out of danger or take an unguarded objective if you’re lucky.
Reinforce Battle-shields. A unit wholly within 24” gains a 5+ MW save. Can be used on the Mortek Guard, Immortis Guard and Liege-Kavalos. On the immortis guard this is good combo with their soulbound protectors rule basically giving nearby heroes 2+/5+/6+ against MW.
Drain Vitality. Enemy unit within 18” must reroll 6s to hit/save, fantastic to neuter a unit you’re about to charge but even better against any units that have exploding attacks.
Mortal Contract. One unit within 18” will take D3 MW on 3+ in each phase that it does damage to the Bonereaper army for the rest of the game. Really useful early game to put on a unit that attacks in both shooting and combat.
Curse of Years. Enemy unit within 18”, roll 10 dice and any 6’s are MW, continue with 5s, 4s… etc. Not as good as it used to be as 1s no longer work but still probably doing instead of Arcane Bolt on average.
Mystic Shield. Can be cast multiple times with Arkhan, particularly useful on immortis guard with their 2+ save or Mortek in cover
Arcane Bolt. Can be cast multiple times with Arkhan, really good if you just absolutely must do a couple of MW to finish off a unit.
Bone Tithe Shrieker. +1 to hit and -1 Bravery to enemy units within 12”. Really useful on the Immortis Guard and the Archai to a lesser extent, to make their high rend/damage attacks more reliable. Also fine for some extra damage output from the mortek or whoever happens to be nearby.
The main premise of this list is that nothing should die easily, everything has at minimum a 3+/6+ save with ways to heal and pass off damage.
You deploy Arkhan and the Liege both within 3” of a unit of Immortis, Arkhan is also within 3” of the Archai and the Liege also within 3” of the second unit of Immortis. This gives both heroes two units to take wounds for them and if your opponent targets either hero you will have your normal save followed by a 2+ to pass the damage off to a unit (5+ the damage is ignored) then whoever takes the damage has their 6+ deathless minions. The Archai have a 5+ MW save also and the immortis can be buffed with a 5+ save from the reinforce battle shields spell. The effect of this is that any damage coming through the saves can be distributed between multiple units, which can then be healed up by Arkhan in your following turn, hopefully meaning you don’t lose any units.
The Mortek guard are used as chaff and home objective holders initially and the 20 unit of Guard moves up with the Harvester to hold up any major central threats.
The general tactic is to stay like this turn 1 and 2, potentially taking a double turn off your opponent and hopefully surviving relatively unscathed. You can then unpack when the enemy is weakened and you’re still close to full strength and play the objectives.
The Liege then moves off with the two units of Immortis buffing them with extra attacks, these aim for the biggest threat as they should generally be able to tank them and put out enough damage to kill most things.
Arkhan jets about with his Archai bodyguard ensuring he is within range to heal anything required and provide buffs.
Now the interesting thing with this is that the best way to play is to send Arkhan and the Liege straight in to combat as they have big bases they should take most of the damage which they pass on to the Aegis units hopefully negating lots with the 5+ ignore. The units then pile in around the heroes doing the damage, and get healed up in your next hero phase. Bonus points if your harvester can assist with healing.
Relatively low model count and needing to be close to each other makes this army prone to being either outnumbered or outmanoeuvred, so you need to advance carefully but not too slowly that you can be chaffed up all game. Get on the objectives quick but don’t over commit. Armies like Seraphon, skaven, Slaanesh with bodies and/or summoning are ones to watch out for.
Focussed ranged damage from either shooting or magic can be a problem, once the harvester is gone you can start to lose mortek quite quickly. But clever positioning keeping it out of range or line of sight can prevent this.