Welcome!! To give some background, I have been building lists and playing both casually/competitively since ’03, so about midway through 6th Edition Fantasy. This game is my main passion and one of my favorite aspects is constructing lists and playing them out to see how to better refine them. This list has been tinkered with for well over 4 months, with game after game put behind it against a plethora of armies at all skill levels. It is a callback to some older editions of Warhammer Fantasy while still packing some punch and can put up a fight against some of the harder hitting lists out there!
Here, we go with Khorne, and take Baleful Lords. With how this army is built, the allegiance typically will only affect certain types of units. The overall Khorne abilities will be our main focus in this list. The subfaction is the easiest thing to change for this army as all of them have great benefits: Reapers allows for the Bloothirster to fight up to 3 times in a given turn, Bloodlords give it an ASF Bloothirster. We have been going with Baleful Lords with some great success because of the psychological threat it brings: run & charge Bloodthirsters instill fear in any one, and causes deployments/first turn moves to become more conserved. It opens up a lot of early board control and can create an early lead on objectives.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
With two Battalions, artefacts come a plenty, and there are some very awesome ones out there. Let’s cover what this list has first:
Baleful Lords provides one of the best artefacts Khorne has access to in recent time: +1 to save rolls. First instinct is usually the Bloodthirster for this, and I would absolutely agree! However, Insensate Rage suffers from the awful 4+ to hit syndrome of earlier books, so this becomes less appealing overall. The Black Brass Crown gets granted to our Bloodsecrator, a linchpin for most Khorne armies that we will dive into later. a 2+ save and a single CP makes it nigh invulnerable to most attacks, particularly the pesky Mortek Crawlers OBR likes to flaunt. Moving on, remember the Bloodthirster and that awful 4+ to hit?? Meet Amberglaive. This not only alleviates our issue with a now 3+ to hit (with re-rolls of 1 due to Locus of Fury), but now we have a 3″ range weapon. Screens need to be extra deep to hide from this guy, else no character is safe. Finally, we keep it simple, and hand our great Doombull friend the Rageblade, because 4(5) attacks at Damage 3 is enough to scare most lads, especially with some battalion re-rolls. Alternative picks can change to suit what you want characters to be doing; even on the level of what Mortal Realm you pick your army to be from. Ghyrstrike is always a classic from Ghyran, as an obvious example.
Command Traits is pretty straightforward when you just pick your subfaction: +1 to charges for Bloodthirsters? Guess you’ll give that to your already run & charge Bloodthirster!
Starting the game with 3 CP allows for some liberal use of command abilities. Baleful Lords once again allows for selfish play with the Bloodthirster to make sure that if it isn’t swinging first, it is still swinging at it’s best with it’s CA. Re-roll saves of 1 will be a popular one to use for the Bloodsecrator as mentioned earlier. In all honesty, the main command abilities will be your generic ones, as they provide the best utility for the army. Re rolls are always good, as will be running 6″ for the Bloodthirster and some classic inspiring presence.
Heroes are honestly the meat and potatoes for most Khorne armies (Bloodcrusher/Skullcrusher lists don’t rely on them as much; they’re cheap enough that the damage output makes them pretty self sufficient), and when it comes to Khorne I love the core heroes that Gore Pilgrims has you take: the Bloodsecrator and 2 Slaughterpriests. Each priest provides mortal wound potential, unbinds/dispels, and some utility. I personally always jump on Killing Frenzy because a lot of the heavier hitters in the army needs the bonus to hit, and Blood Sacrifice for early Blood Tithe generation. The Bloodsecrator, at least where I stand, is still a critical character for Khorne armies. +1 Attack really makes or breaks certain units (looking at you, Bloodletters), plus the re-roll successful castings can assist against the heavier spell armies (Hallowheart, Tzeentch, Nagash, New Seraphon).
After this core, we have our damage dealers: the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage and the Doombull. Doombull is the easier one to look at: 4(5) attacks that hit/wound on 3s with -2 rend and 3 damage. The typical beatstick character. The Bloodthirster is here to explode characters and generally cause havoc amongst the enemy ranks. It moves fast, hits hard, and has massive mortal wound potential. This can be replaced with an Unfettered Fury for more utility and generally consistent damage, but will lack the AoE mortal wound potential and the stigma that comes with a Bloodthirster with a 2 handed axe. I believe this is a personal choice for everyone for those that enjoy a big Greater Daemon.
As with the heroes, let’s go over what units we take in our battalions. With Gore Pilgrims, you are asked to take 1-2 each of Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors. These are your battleline and a good source of Blood Sacrifice fodder. They can easily hold backfield objectives, poke at incoming chaff/scout units, and shield characters. This list doesn’t put an emphasis on these units, so they’re taken in minimum squads.
Next is our hammer units in the list: 12 Bullgors. Brass Despoilers is our second battalion, and we are required 3 units of Gors, Bestigors, and/or Bullgors, which space for more units. Here, we opt for Bullgors in a 6, 3, 3 spread. A glaring flaw I found over the years of playing with Khorne is how actual units lack multiple damage/high rend. Our characters provide the majority of that, but even as hard hitting as we are, we can’t just throw our characters into the fight and expect to succeed. Even the lowliest grot can cause problems!! Bullgors felt like a natural answer. With the new point adjustment for BoC, these are a very cost effective choice in a Khorne army. You gain high damage, excellent rend in either weapon choice, mortal wound potential, and decent unit size in terms of footprint. Great Weapons feel the best in larger units, while you can get away with Two Axes in smaller ones, but these can change based on preference/experience. Bullgors are cheap ways for us to get a solid hammer unit that will either allow our characters to get into combats they want unscathed, or we will surprise them with how hard they hit. Every buff this army provides (+1 to wound CA from the Doombull, +1 to hit with Killing Frenzy, +1 attack with the Bloodsecrator) can make these lads go from alright to devastating.
Lastly, we round this list out with 2 units of Flesh Hounds. One of my favorite models in the current Khorne range and amazing Battleline choices, they just add onto what Khorne is good at: speed, loads of attacks, and magic interaction. They can combat most opposing chaff, hit a character that’s overextended itself, or just tie up a unit for some Blood Tithe goodness.
I’ve mentioned the battalions a lot during this breakdown, but what exactly do they provide us?? Why take battalions? The opinion on how effective they are in the meta has fluctuated over the years, and is even book dependent. With Khorne, they aren’t necessary, but they fall in a decent category where you don’t pay a bucket load of points for them and you are including units you already planned on taking anyway. Let’s walk through the two we have today!
Gore Pilgrims is an tried and true battalion of old. It may not have the craziness that it used to, but it still offers a lot for the army. As long as a Slaughterpriest is within range of a Bloodsecrator, the Bloodsecrator goes from 16″ to 24″ with it’s auras, allowing it to position pretty centrally in the board and touch everything it needs to. Ensuring a buff is making it to your key units is worth every penny you pay, especially as you watch it happen every phase you attack with.
Finally we have the Brass Despoilers. This one is a bit of a doozy, coming in at just sub 200 points, but it is what really shores up a fundamental weakness the base Khorne army has, and comes with amazing buffs for those units that fall inside of it. You get re-rolls of 1 to hit for units wholly within 9″ of another unit in this battalion, and have a Once per Game ability to also re-roll failed wounds until your next hero phase. This ensures that every hit you get is going to have a better chance of getting there, and when you need it most whatever you hit for a round will certainly wound. This battalion is pricey yes, but it provides the tools needed to ensure that the units can get their much needed damage through without having to expend other resources.
This list itself doesn’t have allies, but that’s a personal choice: a gaming philosophy that my late father instilled in me was to be able to do the best you can with what you have. I’ve taken that to a different level and want to work under one allegiance, and not use allies. However, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Ironically enough, Chaos has some of the best wizards that can ally in to make Khorne get the job done. Bray-Shamans force units to move closer to you, Sorcerer Lords can provide amazing re-rolls, and the Gaunt Summoner comes with 50 wounds to place on your favorite backfield objective!
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
Magic??? This is Khorne!! We hate that stuff! However, we like having Judgments, and this army has one of the best ones: the dreaded Hexgorger Skulls. These. Are. Nasty. Large footprints, extremely disruptive to all things with the Wizard keyword, and easy to get onto the board. Yes, there will be games where you don’t run into any Wizards. What then? Well, they have a large footprint as mentioned before, so toss them to start blocking some scarier units. Unless they fly they have to walk around two 60mm bases, which can be the difference between being in range of a shooting attack, getting charged, or even a point from an objective. Take advantage of an easy prayer to chant and use them to the best they can given the situation.
This is probably the piece where this phrase fits most: your mileage will vary with this list, and it will vary greatly. I’ll be the first to admit that this is a list that has a low floor, but will defend that it also has a very high ceiling. It is majority MSU, with a heavy investment in characters that aren’t the toughest out there. It requires patience and excellent positioning. However, here are some things I try to keep in mind when playing:
- Units will die, and that’s all a part of the plan: I can’t push this one enough to any player with any army. Your army is not going to live unscathed by the end of battle round 5. If you start to hesitate once your models begin dropping, you begin the path to lose. Remember you have summoning, and the game is all on objective play at the end.
- Do not charge just because you can: I can say this was a harder one for me to get used to. As a Khorne player there is nothing more satisfying than watching your Bloodthirster go across the table and charge first moment you have the range to. That’s how you throw the game. You need to bide time, create trades for certain units, and use that to open a path for your charges to be effective.
- Spend your Blood Tithe: Unless the scenario calls for it, never be afraid to spend your Blood Tithe. Even if it is for one CP, that can help in the long run. Also remember that Prayers and such happen at the start of the hero phase; the same as when you use your Blood Tithe points. It is your turn, you can determine the order of what happens. Use that to try and squeeze out the last one or two you might need to get a strong summon off or a swing with the Bullgors/Bloodthrister.
Next to take a quick look is scenarios. An easy one is any that require Battleline to control and/or Heroes. This list has those in spades, and can summon the majority of those for as little as 2 Blood Tithe. Starstrike and Gift from the Heavens can be some of the harder scenarios, along with any that involve an auto win mechanic, depending on the opponent. These typically force the army to hold back part of it’s strength for control, which is easily exploitable.
Lastly, army match-ups. These can be very personally influenced, and dependent as small as a local meta level. However, Khorne generally has a grand time against most of the lower/mid tier armies like Slaves, Nurgle, Sylvaneth, etc. These armies typically don’t have the punching power needed to crack through the characters, or can’t pull their weight without their spells going off properly. Sylvaneth in particular also has no real way of absorbing the amount of mortal wounds this list can provide throughout the game. Harder armies will be OBR, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch to name the true stand outs. Each of these prey on a certain aspect of a Khorne army’s flaw, Tzeentch having effectively long range shooting, Slaanesh having more interaction within the combat phase, and OBR with raw durability and efficient abilities. Keep in mind, this list also has ways of getting around a lot of what makes these armies strong with plenty of hero phase magic interaction, mortal wounds, and relatively low depravity count (for those Slaanesh players that aren’t just ignoring the FAQ with Syll’eske).
Finally, some quick tricks or things to think about when playing with this list:
- The Bloodthirster is built to be selfish: Baleful Lords is all about Bloodthirsters, and even one becomes a terror under this subfaction. From the Command Trait to the artefact you give them, they are going to die but won’t die without finding a way of taking a unit or two with them. Get it up there and remind the opponent that this is a model that has to be dealt with.
- Flesh Hounds are Scouts, so get them up there quick: Flesh Hounds are probably the easiest unit to bait with. They’re squishy, move up quickly, and can easily appear out of scope to your opponent. Force a charge into them, and if they die, oh well. You have next turn with a unit that just threw themselves into the middle and close to your killing pieces.
- Slaughterpriests should always be praying: A single Slaughterpriest is the same as a 2 cast wizard that can’t be stopped. Utilize Blood Boil for character sniping and don’t be afraid of trying a Blood Bind and dragging your opponent closer.
- Forced Flank: I’ve found this to be one of the best strategies in a multitude of games. Between a Bloodthirster, a Doombull and a dozen of his Bullgor friends, you can force fights to happen on one side of the board relatively early, especially with their decent movement. It can force a counter flank, which is not hard to answer by surging across the table or just abandoning it and re-creating a different deployment. The list has a decent movement value average behind it, so take advantage of being able to dictate how your opponent moves with the mass of threats.
These are typically dependent on the event you are at, but most are the ones found in the General’s Handbook. Easy ones I’ve found were any of the Kill X objectives, Onslaught (Make a 9″ Charge), and Invade (have a unit of 3 or more models wholly within your enemy’s territory).