Welcome my villanious lords and ladies, to the festering estates of the Flesh Eater Courts.
Since the advent of AOS 2 and the new shooting and summoning rules, the army has got a nice boost and sits in a solid mid tier position. As the army has a relatively low model variety, you quickly learn what your units can and cannot deal with. I’ve found that this list can compete in most phases of the game (with the exception of the shooting phase). With a solid combat centre from your ghouls and large beasts, three powerful casters and a very durable screening unit in the ghouls, you can adapt to most scenarios and opponents. Over the course of this rundown I’ll attempt to explain the army from base principles and try to avoid using common gaming terms – the aim here is for a complete beginner to be able to read this and understand how they might use this army!
Summary of Abbreviations
FEC = Flesh Eater Courts
GKoZD = Ghoul King on Zombie Dragon
GKoT = Ghoul King on Terrorgheist
6++ save = an additional save that you can take after a failed armour save
DEATHLESS COURTIERS: This is your standard 6++ death save. If you fail your armour save, or take a mortal wound you can use this 6+ save against it. This save also cannot be rended down. Note that if you have multiples of these, such as from the “deathless vigour” spell (5++ death save) you can choose which order to take these in. This save requires you to be wholly within 12″ of your general or another death hero. You will want your courtiers to be within 10″ of your units to be able to heal them up, so it is worth considering the positioning of your heroes and units, particularly in deployment where you may need the 6++ save to endure your opponent’s first turn.
FEEDING FRENZY: In the combat phase, if the attacks made by one of your units destroyed a unit, roll a dice. On a 6+ that FEC unit can fight for a second time. This means that you can pile in 3″ and fight again, but as it relies on you rolling a 6+ and being within 3″ of a second unit, it’s more of a bonus than a mechanic to build your army around.
COURTS OF DELUSION: At the start of the battle, you can select a delusion that affects all the FEC units in your army. Traditionally, most armies will usually select “Crusading Army” as their delusion, as this benefit doesn’t rely on your opponents army or the mission – you’ll always get value from this delusion. It’s worth noting though that the delusion is selected after set up is complete, but before the battle starts. This allows you to tailor your force depending on the mission or opponent your facing; i.e. if you find yourself in a position where you need to play defensively, deploy the army in your territory (ghoul patrol included) and select “defenders of the realm” for the re-roll 1’s on your saves while in your territory.
If you’re intending to play this army aggressively however I would take “Crusading Army” as your 1st choice – the ability to re roll your charges and run rolls is a fantastic buff to a combat orientated army.
“The Grand Tournament” works as an alternate pick – rerolling hit roll’s of 1 on all hero’s other than your general will improve your terrorgheist‘s bite attacks and make your varghulfs more reliable.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
SUMMONING AND YOU – FEC COMMAND ABILITIES: The main change to the army with AOS 2.0 is the new summoning Command Ability mechanic. Now, each of your ghoul kings (on foot, on zombie dragon & on terrorgheist) can summon a unit once per game for 1 CP (foot = 10 ghouls, Zombie Dragon = any courtier & Terrorgheist = 3 Horrors/Flayers). Each of these units are summoned at the end of your movement phase, and must be deployed within 6″ of any board edge and 9″ away from an enemy unit – the same restriction as the ghoul patrol battalion.
MAJESTIC HORROR: This is a fairly straightforward choice. This allows you to summon 2 units for the price of 1 CP. In this list, Majestic Horror on the Abhorrent Ghoul King on Zombie Dragon allows you to summon 2 varghulf courtiers. The benefit here is that varghulfs can heal all your units regardless of what you choose to summon – crypt horrors, crypt flayers or your ghoul patrol crypt ghouls. Bringing these on with the outflanking patrol allows them to benefit from the Flayed Pennant artifact (discussed below). Varghulfs also get bonuses to their attacks when they are outnumbered – throw them into the thick of the enemy and let them cause your opponent massive headaches, while still healing up your ghouls and unit of horrors/flayers
GRYPH FEATHER CHARM: The gryph feather charm helps to protect your general, in this case the Zombie Dragon Ghoul King – a key buff piece in this army. This artifact gives you an extra 1″ to your movement, bumping his move at full health to a blistering 15″. It also means any attacks that target him are at -1 to hit. Essentially this gives him a defacto “Look out sir” ability, even though he’s a monster – this means you’re -1 to hit him at range and -1 to hit in combat. A solid alternate pick is an Ethereal Amulet to ignore any rend on your general. With a 4+/6++ save and 14 wounds it makes him a tough prospect to shift. I tend to favour the gryph feather charm as it helps protect your general as well as giving him a speed boost to enable him to keep up with your summoned and outflanking units.
THE FLAYED PENNANT: Probably the best item available to the FEC, the flayed pennant is a one use item. At the start of any of your charge phases, popping the pennant gives friendly units wholly within 12 of the bearer an extra 3″ to their charge – this means you can potentially charge 15″. Pair this with the Crusading army and you have a re-rollable 6″ charge turn 1 from two units of ghouls, two varghulfs and a unit of horrors, depending on how you use your CPs. If you hold onto this until your entire army is in the enemy’s face, this could also effect your Zombie dragon and Terrogheist.
It is generally accepted that the Ghoul Patrol is the most viable battalion available to the Flesh Eaters. Following the latest set of FAQs, the battalion gives a huge amount of versatility and value to the army. In this list, the ghoul patrol is where you’ll get most of your hitting power and tarpitting abilities
First things first – what does it do?
Ghoul patrol consists of 3 units of ghouls and a crypt ghast courtier. The battalion gains you four benefits: Firstly, it gives you an additional Command point and magical artifact. Essentially the ghoul patrol only costs 130 points, as the other 50 cover the CP and the artifact. Secondly, it cuts down the number of drops, giving you a greater chance to secure the choice of going first or second. Third and Fourth benefits are the battalion’s abilities:
The battalion allows you to set up some (or all) of the units in reserve. If you choose to do so, those units must deploy within 6 inches of any table edge, at least 9 inches away from an enemy unit at the end of your first movement phase.
The battalion also has a nifty built in healing ability. In your hero phase, roll a dice for each unit in the formation, and add that many ghouls to each unit. As per the latest FAQ, this CAN take the unit over its starting size. This means that with a few good rolls, a unit of 10 could easily grow to have 20+ models in it by turn 2! It’s worth noting as well that unlike the courtier healing abilities, the unit does not have to be in range of a hero to benefit from this ability. The only stipulation is that they have to be on the board for the ability to work, so unfortunately you can’t grow your units waiting in reserve.
I found the best approach was to place the large ghoul unit and one of the 10 man units in reserve with the courtier, with one 10 man unit deployed on the back lines to hold an objective and zone off from deep striking opponents. This unit could start to grow from the first turn and would allow me to secure my backfield objectives and potentially contest a midfield objective as the game progressed. The courtier and two units would deploy as close to the enemy as possible, ideally at the very edge of the 9″ limit. The courtier would then pop the flayed banner, adding 3″ to their charge. Combine this with the armies delusion which allows you to re-roll charges, and you have a reliable turn 1 charge for your opponent to deal with.
Once the ghouls have hit the enemy lines, try and keep your courtier slightly back and use his healing ability to keep them in the fight – try and keep him close enough that the ghouls still benefit from the “deathly courtiers” 6++ save as well. It’s also worth considering the order you do things in when it comes to healing your ghoul units – remember, the courtier can’t take the unit over it’s starting size; the ghoul patrol ability can. Use the courtier’s healing ability first, then double down with the ghoul patrol to heal and increase your unit size! The ghouls can potentially harry and tarpit units for the entire game, eventually wearing them down through sheer weight of numbers. Don’t forget to roll for the hungering hordes overrun – if you manage to punch through a throwaway screening unit you might be able to close with a juicy key spellcaster, character or warmachine. It might only be on a 6+, but that’s exactly the kind of rolls that make a good game story!
ARKHAN THE BLACK, MORTARCH OF SACRAMENT: For a mere 300 points, Arkhan is an absolute bargain in almost any list. In this FEC list, he operates primarily as a buff and distraction piece. While he has a healthy statline and attack profile, Arkhan is somewhat fragile, as when included as an ally, he doesn’t get the benefit of a 6++ deathless minion save and so is vulnerable to high rend and mortal wound inducing attacks. As such, he should be deployed and operate in your second line of attack – I would only commit him to combat if your sure of the outcome or if you have no other choice remaining.
It’s worth remembering that his “Deathly Invocation” & “Mortarch of Sacrament” abilities don’t work in this list, as the FEC units do not have the “Summonable” keyword. Also remember that as he doesn’t have the FEC keyword, he can’t act as a hero when checking to see if your units are near a hero to benefit from the 6++ deathly courtier’s save.
What Arkhan does bring to the list is a powerful caster with a unique command ability. For a single CP, Arkhan can increase the range of friendly “Death Wizards” spells by 6″, provided they are within 18″ of him in the hero phase. This massive buff means that as well as allowing you to buff your own units with an additional 5++ save at a range of 24″, the main bonus to this list is increasing the reroll wound bubble granted by Feeding Frenzy to 16″ – this means that potentially, depending on how you deploy and bring on your summoned units, you could have a turn 1 alpha strike where your entire army is rerolling failed rolls to wound. This also means that it’s more likely one of your units could wipe out a small unit, trigger the feeding frenzy allegiance ability and pile in and attack, doing it all over again! You can also trigger this ability multiple times, so the range increase is only limited by your store of CPs. In this list, I traditionally burn 1 turn 1 to buff the spell range and save one for summoning on some additional units to team up with the ghoul patrol.
Arkhan also knows all the spells of death casters within 18″ of him – remember this isn’t just friendly casters but ALL death casters! Nagash – Gimme that hand of dust!
The main benefit of this is allowing you to ensure you can cast the key buff spells – whether that’s unholy vitality to give someone an additional 5++ save, or using Arkhan to cast Feeding Frenzy, acting as a reroll wound bubble for your army. It’s also important to remember Mystic shield – as your ghouls come equipped with a 6+ save, adding a mystic shield reroll to that instantly improves their survivability.
the final benefit is of course, Curse of Years. At this stage, almost everyone is aware of the potential damage output from this spell – able to, in theory, lift any unit in the game. As per the recent FAQ, this has taken a bit of a knock in terms of power. Now that you can use your after-the-fact ++ saves against it to stop the snowballing dice rolls, it has lost some of it’s potency. Against armies that don’t posess such a save, however, such as stormcast, tzeentch or beastmen to name a few, it’s still a potent threat. This means you can essentially zone off a 24″ bubble (remember his command ability!) around Arkhan and use him as an area denial piece.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
This army relies on a few key spells. To ensure these are sucessfully cast, some of these are worth casting from Arkhan, using his ability to know all death spells of nearby casters. I’ve detailed which casters should be casting what spells below.
FEEDING FRENZY: One of the most important spells available to FEC, this 10″ bubble spell allows all FEC units within range of the caster to reroll failed wound rolls. Naturally, to gain the most benefit from this, you want to have the caster as close to as many of your own units as possible. This spell is native to the Zombie Dragon Ghoul King, who with his 14″ move can ensure he’s right in the thick of it. To really bump the usefulness out of this spell, it’s worth using Arkhan’s command ability to give the spell an extra 6″ range, bumping the bubble up to 16″. This simple buff turns your ghouls into a terrifyingly potent unit, coupled with the natural rerolls of 1’s to hit they claim from being within 15″ of a ghoul king. It’s also worth keeping your terrorgheist nearby, as the beast’s bite attacks become extremely potent when paired with this spell. Of course, don’t forget that the Ghoul King and his mount also benefit from this spell!
UNHOLY VITALITY: The other key spell available to the FEC is this buff spell. Simply put, select a FEC unit within 18″ (again, doesn’t have to be wholly within). That unit get’s an additional 5++ save until your next hero phase. This can make a large unit of ghouls a nightmare to shift, coupled with the knowledge that whatever you might get through, they will regrow come the next hero phase. It can also be used to ensure your GKoZD stays alive and buffing the rest of your army until your next hero phase. Because this one doesn’t have to come from the native caster, it’s useful to throw this one out from Arkhan, claiming his bonuses to cast.
CURSE OF YEARS: This is more of a footnote – almost everyone in the community is familiar with this spell and what it can do. In this list, Curse of Years is used more as a deterrent than a reliable damage dealer. There will always be the stories of Arkhan lifting units or huge heroes from an opponent’s army with this spell, but most the time this will only net you a few mortal wounds. I’ve found you’re best bet is to focus on getting off Feeding Frenzy, Unholy Vitality and potentially Mystic Shield before investing a casting attempt into Curse of Years. As you can now use ++ saves against this to negate the snowballing dice rolls, it has lost a bit of utility. Still a dangerous spell, but not one to pin all your hopes on. Remember, as mentioned above, Arkhan’s main use in this list is to buff the range of your spells and to ensure you get off those key synergy castings.
SUFFOCATING GRAVETIDE: In truth this was only included as I had a space 30 points in the list. Having said that, the spell does have a few benefits. Firstly, the large footprint of the spell can help zone off parts of the battlefield, while giving your units nearby the benefit of cover if correctly positioned. Secondly, the bravery debuff stacks nicely with the terrorgheist‘s scream, as well as the flayers scream if you choose to summon them instead of horrors. As such it makes sense to cast it from the ghoul king on terrogheist.