With the release of the Skaven and FEC tomes, their rise in popularity will require some serious rejiggering of the Nighthaunt list from the release of AoS 2.0 last July. As such, I present my list that is sure (well, maybe sure) to disrupt those sneaky rat and ghoul spellcasters and take down the hero units that will cause headaches with the hordes. After all, the best way to beat their abilities is to prevent them from happening at all!
Aura of Dread: -1 Bravery to enemy units within 6″ of yours. This will definitely help with anything other than death or demons really. The real trick here is knowing which of your opponent’s units give bravery boots and target them with spells (i.e. BURN THEM WITH FIRE!)
Deathless Spirits: Each time a NIGHTHAUNT unit takes a wound/mortal wound if that unit is wholly within 12″ of your general or any other NIGHTHAUNT HERO it can ignore the wound on a dice result of 6. Standard death (except the 12″ range), so as long as you line up your hero with the unit for a long charge, the unit will still benefit from the 6+ save, even if hero misses the charge. True Story.
Feed on Terror: If an enemy unit fails a battleshock test, a NIGHTHAUNT HERO within 6″ heals 1 wound. This is nice, especially combined with the lowered bravery. Just don’t forget to use it as it’s an easy one to forget about while you are caught up in the moment of watching enemy units flee in terror (it happens…trust me.)
From the Underworld They Come: For each unit you set-up on the battlefield you can keep another unit in reserve. This is what keeps armies honest against Nighthaunt. I always like to put something in the underworld, even if it is just going to be for the initial setup since it makes your opponent second guess where you will come in. Also, NEVER put the Black Coach in the Underworld (he needs to power up and with a 14″ move, he will be able to get anywhere soon anyway)
Wave of Terror: When a NIGHTHAUNT unit makes an unmodified charge roll of 10+. The charging unit can immediately fight, and can still fight again in the following combat phase. This is glorious! It just sucks it doesn’t go off more than you’d like….which obviously is all of the time.
Spectral Summons: A Command Ability for your general. At the start of the movement, phase pick a friendly NIGHTHAUNT unit on the battlefield, then teleport it to your general. Entirely within 12″ of your general and 9″ from any enemy unit. This is a great way to keep units alive. There are more interesting things you can do with this in other lists than the one here, but it can be pretty demoralizing to say: YOINK! and the unit is nowhere near where the enemy wants it.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Command Trait: Ruler of the Spirit Hosts
At the start of the hero phase, return d3 models to a friendly SUMMONABLE NIGHTHAUNT unit within 9″ of the general. To me, there is no other real option as this is what keeps the Nighthaunt in the fight. For this list, all the summonable units are 1 wound a piece, but it’s a beast command trait for Spirit Hosts.
Dreadbolt Ring: If this model inflicts one or more wounds in the combat phase, then inflict d3 mortal wounds on an enemy unit within 3″ after this model has finished attacking. I chose this over the Headsman’s Judgement artefact (gives +1 to hit and wound for all weapon attacks) for the Cairn Wraith as the Cairn Wraith is likely to do some damage with three attacks at 4+/3+/-1 with the potential of mortal wounds on a natural 6. Another d3 mortal wounds just seems insulting.
Beacon of Nagashizzar: This is a great beacon to have with the Guardian of Souls’s Spectral Lure spell, which gives 1d6+3 healing instead of 1d6. Paired with the Chainguard Battalion, the Spectral Lure spell will give 2d6+3 models coming back. Nice and beefy.
The Mortarch of Grief! The Iron Lady (I like to think it might be Margaret Thatcher undeath that veil)! She does damage in almost every phase (including d6 mortals in the hero phase, d3 mortals in the shooting phase, and her handmaidens can do 1 mortal wound on a natural 6 with their attacks in the combat phase), she can bring back some models (kinda weak though since it’s 1 model in every unit within 12″ when she is the General – best used with spirit hosts and hexwraiths, which this list does not have). The most important part though is that she is a level 2 Wizard and has two spells and two unbinds, which include a spell that gives -1 to hit rolls for a specific enemy unit and +1 to hit for any unit that targets the same unit. This lady has the potential to rip through screens and do some real damage. At 7 hounds though, she needs to be a little careful where she treads (FEC Crypt Horrors are NOT her friends).
Another great magic user. He is fast at 14″ movement, and he has the ability to snuff out a corpse candle and do either: 1) One mortal wound to an enemy unit for a +1 to cast, or 2) Take a mortal wound and get a +3 to cast. Not too shabby if you want those spells to go off. Pair him with Lifestealer, which does mortal wounds and allows the caster to heal d3 damage.
Guardian of Souls with a Nightmare Lantern
This little guy is a must have. He is relatively cheap for a hero (140pts), but he can cast, including his signature spell of Spectral Lure which can heal or bring back models. As importantly, he gives a lovely +1 to wound for a unit that is wholly within 12″ This guy works AWESOME when paired with a chainrasp horde of 20 units (40 attacks at 4+/3+) Boom! Then when they die, he just brings them right back, much to the chagrin of your opponent.
I did the math to compare a Cairn Wraith and the Lord Executioner (who is 20 points more). Damage wise (not counting the fact that the Lord Executioner gets 3 damage on a natural 6 instead of the normal 1), they are almost exactly the same. Both get three attacks, but the cairn wraith hits on 4+/3+/-1 instead of the Lord Executioner‘s 3+/3+/-2. The -2 rend on the Lord executioner is nice, but he only does 1 damage (unless of course, he hits a six), whereas the Cairn Wraith does 2 damage, and mortal wounds on a 6. To me, it’s basically the same, and it fits points-wise into this army. The other benefit is that with a 25mm base, it can totally integrate within the units line without any cohesion issues.
Great battleline troop. At 20 models, they are pretty survivable and can be brought back with either the Spectral Lure spell, the Ruler of the Spirit Hosts trait, and the Vampire Lord‘s command ability. With the rerolls for all hits against a unit of 5+, this is a great option for FEC, Skaven, DoK, etc. REAP THEM LIKE CORN!
These guys rarely say die (Not quite the Goonies, but whaddya gunna do?) They are pretty susceptible to missile attacks, so, you either have to hang them back for real objectives or move them up and set them on an objective with a guardian of souls nearby (who can bring 2d6+3 models back and give them a +1 to wound). As long as he is there to baby sit them, and you aren’t massively double-turned, these guys can really stick around.
12 of these ladies will give 12 attacks at 4+/3+/-2 doing D3 damage. Oof. But they also get an 18″ unbind attempt, with a +1 for the attempt for every 4 models in the unit, they will get +1 to attacks. Also paired with the Vampire Lord who can give them +1 attacks with a command point, that would give the ladies 36 total attacks. Quick Math: That would be 20 wounds on a 4+ save. Yowzers. That unit is gonzo (especially after the battleshock test)
Instead of 1D6, the Guardian of Souls can bring back 2D6 models to one of the units of Chainrasps when he casts Spectral Lure. Pair this with the Beacon of Nagashazzir, and all of a sudden you get 2d6+3 models (average 10) every turn.
Pros: Gives a +1 attack to friendly death unit within 15″. It can fly (to keep up with the flying nighthaunt). It can heal itself. It can bring back D3 models per turn for free.
Cons: Does not get to use the 6+ Deathless spirit save. Does not grant the 6+ Deathless spirit save to other units. Not ethereal so it does take rend.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
This is a magic and anti-magic heavy list:
With the few points left over, I took the Quicksilver swords as an endless spell. It may not be the beefiest of endless spells (definitely no purple sun), but it can do damage, especially if you plant it right in the middle of the opponent’s army, which Reikenor could easily do.
Ok, here’s how I see this playing out:
In my opinion, Nighthaunts are best used when broken down into modules. A unit or two supported by a hero that has a specific board purpose. I’m sure that is how it works with other armies, but it is ESPECIALLY important for Nighthaunt to take advantage of all their abilities. So, here are the Modules
Module 1: Objective Holders
– Guardian of Souls
– 20x Chainrasp Horde
Using Lady Olynder to cut through enemy lines, you can set these boys on an objective and they are not going anywhere. Chances are that you will also get unbind attempts with the Guardian of Souls and maybe some potshots with an arcane bolt. All else fails, you can cast Shademist on the chainrasps, and they get -1 for wound rolls against them. Not. Going. Anywhere. Once they are in a good spot, send the Lady on her way to help out elsewhere.
Module 2: Horde Killers
– 1x Cairn Wraith
– Black Coach
– 20x Grimghast Reapers
These boys are ready to do some work. Cairn wraith and the black coach can deal out some serious mortal wounds, and the grimghast reapers and ready to mow down hordes. With some good screening, the cairn wraith and the black coach would be VERY survivable.
Module 3: General/Wizard Hunters
– Vampire Lord
– 12x Mymourn Banshees
I can imagine a rousing speech by REikenor that ends with a line similar to Aragorn at the end of the Fellowship of the Rings “Let’s hunt some orcs!” This unit is NASTY! Lots of hits, magic unbinds, and deadly wounding abilities. Get these behind the lines (not hard with an 8″ move with the banshees, 10″ with the Vampire Lord, and 14″ with Reikenor), and they will wreck some fools.
Module 4: Home Guardians
– 20x Chainrasp Horde
“Run Home Jack!” Hopefully, you are old enough to get that reference.
I see this being a decently competitive list. Where it may struggle is against shooting armies (most nighthaunt lists do), but if it does encounter a shooting army, I’d place the reapers and cairn wraith in the underworld, along with Reikenor, and deep strike them all. Get up in their grill and give enough time for the other heavy hitters like the black coach to do some work.
A horde army still may be able to overwhelm, so it’ll be important to choose how your army engages, if possible. effective screening and trying to take advantage of the 10+ charge rolls (therefore putting yourself in a position to be the one who charges.) will be the key.
AFTER ACTION REPORT
Ok…so I used this in a local tournament with some really good players, and it did not do well. Here are some of the pros, mehs, and cons:
- Chainguard batallion is legit. Bringing back models was unreal as I was able to pretty much take down a 10-man unit of blightkings with 20 chainrasps (which were buffed by the Vampire Lord and Guardian of Souls). Being able to bring back 2d6+3 chainrasps kept the little guys in the fight and frustrated some best-laid plans of my opponents.
- Reapers are as good as advertised. One game I failed to engage them early enough, and I probably lost the game for it. The next few games I engaged them and they did the work that they needed to. I would probably buff them differently (I didn’t buff them) to make them almost unstoppable (pair them with the vampire lord who can bring back d3 models and give +1 to attack, and pair them with the general to bring back another d3 models)
- Lady Olynder is Meh, but on the border of being a Pro. I will still take her because she brings some good spellcasting to the table. However, if she does not get within 10-12″ of the enemy she is almost useless. She can deal some ridiculous mortal wounds, but she has to get engaged, so keep that in mind.
- Black Coach is squarely in Meh. I love this model. My heart wants to take it everytime, but unless he gets powered up early on, he becomes a bit of a liability. Yes, he can deal mortal wounds (an average of 6-7 per turn if powered up), but considering that he is the same cost as 20 reapers, it’s hard to pick him over the consistency that the reapers bring to the table. With that said, he almost single-handedly took down a blood thirster. Hit and miss with this guy.
- Myrmourn Banshees. They were what I thought they’d be. Super unreliable, difficult to use, and all around ineffective. Having to get them within 18″ to unbind (for the +1 attack) is just silly. By the time they get close enough and unbind a spell, it’s almost turn 3 before they can attack anything. Yes, pair them with a vampire lord, but guess what? you can’t deep strike the vampire lord since he isn’t Nighthaunt, so you have old Vampy, sitting on the side of the board with his thumb up his butt waiting for the banshees to drop, and when they do, he has to cross the board to actually buff them. Lame. In the four games I used them, I got off 12 successful attacks for about 18 damage. LAAAAAAAMMMMMEEEEEE. I’m switching back to bladegheists.
- Quicksilver sword. They worked for one game. I had 20 points, so why not try them, but I think I’ll be using soul snare shackles next time.
STAY TUNED FOR A NEW LIST ON THE SITE.