The crux of this list is essentially 3 main threats, none of which can really be ignored. Force your opponent to make decisions and inevitably some of them will be wrong! Nagash in the realms is already a beat stick, couple this with an ethereal dragon who can potentially move 24” a turn and you have some headaches for your opponent to deal with. Reapers make for a super efficient unit and horde killer, give them +1 to wound, +1 charge, double pile in and +1 damage and you can be confident they will deal with most units.
Like all legion of Nagash lists the main ability is of course the grave sites, having two incredible functions makes these incredibly important when placing. Something I have learn through many games. You start the game with four gravesites, two must be deployed in your own territory and two anywhere on the table.
The first use of these is to be a respawn point for a destroyed summonable unit, the second is to be a regeneration point for depleted summonable units. Bringing back units in Legions lists means your general needs to end a move phase within 9” of a gravesite, spend a CP and then bring back a fully destroyed unit.
The list I run is intentionally 50pts short to guarantee me a CP to start, Nagash needs to have his ability on every single turn (see below) so a spare is essential. This list also benefits from being quite aggressive and so the reapers will die eventually!
I always deploy 2 gravesites about 6” off my deployment zone to be able to reach units that are in my deployment and units mid table. I then will sit a couple mid table and depending on the scenario these will often float around just outside the objectives. From experience having them too bunched together will allow your opponent to close them off and deny any respawns. Having them too far away and you will struggle to keep your units alive in the thick of the fighting. Nagash is fast enough to get from one grave to another very quickly, helped by knowing all other death wizard spells, potentially being able to fly across the table 19” allows him to summon where needed.
Keeping graves near to where you feel the big fights with the reapers will happen will allow them to get the most support, stringing dire wolves back to these points will keep them safe when needed also.
Being able to heal D3 wounds (or models) back to a unit within 9” key placement of these will allow 4D3 wounds back a turn, Nagash, Dragon and Necromancer another 3D3 and then “Legions Innumerable” a potential further D3.
Raising 8D3 Reapers back can really turn the tide of a fight. Legions Innumerable is the final allegiance ability, allowing each summonable unit on the tabletop a chance to heal D3 on a roll of a 5+. Can’t be relied on but certainly helps on occasion.
I can’t say I have a particular tactic to what to bring back with my CPs, I often will only get one chance in a game and is ALWAYS saved for the reapers. If things look pretty strong in a game and chances of losing the unit is slim however, I will summon back the ten dire wolves. Twenty wounds of dire wolf is not to be sniffed at with objective play.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Grand Host has to run Nagash as the general, makes sense given his status! This leaves me just a single artefact choice, with no battalions I have to make it count. There were a couple of options to run with.
Grave Sand Timeglass from Grand Host is a great way to deal damage table wide to key heroes at the start of the game, this carries on until the game ends or the target is slain, whichever comes first. Though a valuable choice I knew how aggressive I wanted to play with the list, the Dragon needed something to help himself out.
Two go to options here are Ethereal Amulet (Shyish) or the Doppelganger Cloak (Ulgu). Ethereal Amulet works well in my list, with a natural 3+ save and ignoring rend this is already a strong choice, couple this with Nagash’s command ability makes him nearly unstoppable. 3+ save ignore rend and re roll 1’s to save. Incredible. This makes his role very easy, he flies around the table tying up elite units, monsters or anything I need to hold in place until the reapers arrive.
There are two warscroll command abilities available to me, Nagash’s ability is sooo good and needs to be activated every single turn. Table wide immunity to battleschock, re roll 1’s to hit and save is phenomenal. There is a lot of ethereal in my army that does not benefit from modifiers, re roll 1’s really helps here.
When Nagash is dead (or if dire need) then the Vampire on Dragon allows a unit to re roll all failed hits in combat. With Nagash’s ability this is redundant but when slain the dragon is even more potent, many a time has my opponent killed Nagash and thought victory was theirs only to have a dragon fly 24” re rolling all hits and wade through units like a hot knife through butter.
Nagash – Supreme lord of the undead. Overall ruler and undead bad ass, he is the largest points sink in the list and critical to the long game. You need to be very careful with Nagash, any canny player will have units who can take him out quickly, if you lose him you lose you command ability, magic domination and ability to respawn units. Nagash has a couple of different roles in this list and the realms, when in use, open up so much potential for further roles. Generally he is a table wide support piece allowing you to dominate the magic phase and shut down your opponent’s with the +3 to cast and dispel, this does depreciate so be careful. He is no slouch in combat and will easily chew through most things, just make sure you do not get stuck fighting units / heroes who can hit you back too hard.
Though he can heal it is certainly not reliable once you start to lose casting buffs.
Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon – As discussed above, he wants to get stuck in as soon as possible, early game is often dictated by whether or not I manage to get Pinions cast on that natural 9+. Allowing even poor set up or being hard countered to be forgiven, movement 24” has often seen me switching flanks completely to where I will need him turn two into three. Ethereal and re roll 1’s to hit and save makes the Dragon the key unit in my opinion. Being able to hop around the table killing off chaff and horde units to going toe to toe with other heroes makes him very versatile.
Necromancer with hat – His main role in the army is to give Nagash spells and help regenerate smaller units. He is often kept out of sight but never out of mind. Losing him will lose me two key spells: Van Hels Dance Macabre and Spectral Grasp. Nagash knowing ALL death wizard spells on the table means that Van Hels can be cast very reliably and make sure those reapers get the double pile in every turn. His ability to bounce wounds, get cover saves and generally hide away makes him surprisingly survivable. I have not lost the necromancer in a game for about four tournaments, that’s twenty plus competive games this chap has made it unscathed… Must be the hat.
The ten man chainrasp unit is a new addition to this list, before I had run thirty reapers instead but found that these were far more useful and made up for a whole in my list. I need things to sit back claim the objectives and guard Necromancer with hat. Though they lack the power of ten reapers added to the other unit they give more flexibility, can screen against alpha strikes and generally a useful addition.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
PORTALS! So yes … Nagash and magic, who would have thought? Nagash is the best spell caster in AOS, having access to five spells on his own, every death wizard’s spells on the table AND realm spells it is not uncommon for Nagash to be able to choose from eighteen to twenty spells a turn! Though this sounds great this can easily get confusing and the choice becomes much harder.
When I play this list I like to stick to basic game plans and branch out from there, knowing roughly where you want to be on the table will help make key decisions such as who needs to cast pinions? Do I have access to any realm movement spells?
Having so many spells also allows you to dictate your opponent’s dispels and make them really choose how to use them. Unless you face another Nagash nobody will be able to dispel every spell you cast. Don’t use up all your obvious choices early doors either, casting up portals and hand of dust right away means they may not have to save dispels. You can of course fail to cast in which case they do not have to panic, leaving them until the end makes them fear it coming! Make them choose.
That being said you need to think ahead and make sure you have enough casts to get off key spells. I will list the spells I have in the list and how I use them typically, briefly mention realms and then touch on the endless spell choice.
Soulstealer – Nagash only spell, not super useful but 24” range means ranged damage and also allows you to heal. Combined with sinister terrain, overwhelming dread and other bravery de buffs this can be nasty and catch people out. Roll 2D6 and beat the bravery characteristic to inflict D3 mortals, healing those caused. Doubling the bravery is D6!
Hand of Dust – Nagash only spell, perhaps my favorite and worst spell ever! It sometimes may not get cast with a casting of an 8+ but definitely the one your opponent will want to stop. It has a 3” range only (hahaha) but there is a 50/50 chance that you may just remove a model from the table. There is something very nerve wracking / exciting about it, when those hands go out over the table and you’re trying not to give away the ‘dice’ hand. Obviously the target for this is almost always higher value heroes, monsters, support pieces but I love to do something else with this. Breaking unit coherency now is a super efficient way to remove more than just one model, you need to make sure you will not engage that unit so that they cannot pile back in but removing a single model to break coherency will mean your opponent has to potentially remove half a unit! Use this to pull units off of objectives, break synergies and release your units from combat.
Overwhelming Dread – A staple in a death list 18+ debuff, -1 to hit and -1 to bravery. Cast on a 9+ this can be -2 on both or hit multiple units. Often used to weaken units before the reapers, dragon or Nagash strikes hard.
Vile Transference – Damage spell, Nagash will often find himself in trouble and this is key to make sure he doesn’t remain too low for long. D3 mortal wounds to a unit within 12” and can heal those wounds caused. Casting on a 9+ becomes even better!
Amarantine Orb – High risk high reward spell. High casting but not an issue for Nagash really. 50/50 chance of D6 mortal wounds is great, cast on a 9+ means that is doubled! Once taking 11 mortal wounds off of Arkhan means this is a keeper for me. Beware anyone getting to close to this chap.
Spectral Grasp – Not a conventional choice but being able to tamper with enemy movement gives my list even more options. Coupled with spell portals is a classic first turn trick you will see from my list. Target a terrain piece in the opponent deployment and ALL units within 3” half their movement. Again, on a 9+ that becomes two terrain pieces. Halving essentially the entire army before the game really kicks off.
Van Hels Dance Macabre – Pick a summonable unit and it allows them to pile in and attack twice in your combat phase. No brainer who this goes on really, buffed up reapers who can pile in and fight twice is amazing. Especially when they charge! If you wipe them out on the first pile in you can still pile in again, making some big movements where needed.
Amethystine Pinions – Movement buff spell, used on Dragon and Nagash to give huge board presence and aggression. The dragon especially will use this most.
Umbral Spell portals – So these are the best thing in the list in terms of utility. They are a real threat, extending the range of any spell by essentially 21” it can catch people out. Though I am always keen to point this out to my opponent just in case they aren’t aware! That 3” hand of dust sudden becomes VERY scary. I use the portals early doors to snipe through with the orb spell, realm spells or general de buff with spectral grasp etc. Later on when battle is full flow then being able to get some really good positions for certain spells becomes fun. The orb especially with its 12” straight line. Being able to cats these twice (on a 9+) through a portal can reek havoc for armies with lots of hiding support pieces.
Realm spells – This is Nagash’s sandbox, so much choice and so many options! I won’t cover every single spell but there are some stand out choices for sure that I will always cast if I can.
Realm of Death allows Nagash to have +1 to hit on all weapons, he can also be ethereal and to top it off his last spell cast can be used to make him immune to other spells. Realm of Fire has the most buff spells for the reapers especially, +1 to wound and charge, +1 damage coupled with double pile in and re roll all failed hits make them a mincer of units.
Nagash in particular benefits from Realm of Life, with Mirrorpool being able to teleport 18” and then start casting from the new position puts all his damage spells in range and makes hand of dust a potential 42” range from your original position, oh and you can move afterwards! Scary.
Nagash in realms is just incredible, one word of advice is make cheat sheets for each realm. I have made a summary of each spell, whether it is a buff / de buff / damage or whether it is used at all. It is easy to rule out spells you will never be able to use. It is easy to confuse and mess us spell orders / choices with Nagash and realms so be careful.
I think deployment is pretty key with this list, for the most part the deployment I set up is pretty much the same in ever mission. The dire wolves, chains and reapers will screen the heroes wherever possible. This list is forgiving enough to have you hit the screens.
Alpha strike armies do scare me, anything that can get to Nagash early enough will ruin the list in my opinion. Killing the general is always the key and Nagash has some enemies out there that can really hurt him.
I need to make sure that I am careful with measurements, check I am outside of 3” when setting up the screens etc so I do not get ‘tagged in’ accidentally.
This list plays very well against elite armies with high rend, horde armies to a degree. I have more success than I thought I would against the current Daughters Of Khaine lists, having won 6/8 of last encounters against them at events. Stormcast I can also deal with just fine, with low numbers of attacks but high rend they bounce off of most of my units. I need to watch out for mortal wound output as a whole and armies that can out play me on objectives.
My top five armies I think I am good against:
My top five armies I think I struggle with:
A lot of the above is based on scenario play, in my opinion the games I have lost at events has been due to scenario. Yes, this the fault with the list, it does not have the models to deal with multiple objectives against armies that can strike hard and fast where they want. Shooting armies are also a problem for the big guy.
In particular I have struggled with “better part of valour”, being able to burn objectives turn one against an army like mine who can only hold two objectives properly is a problem. I have been unlucky and planned only alpha strike armies in these scenarios in tournaments so hard to tell, certainly an issue with my list. Total commitment can have it’s issues, I have nothing off board but having to split the army in half means I need to carefully decide what to do with the Dragon and Nagash. Together they are super strong but apart they could fall, the reapers being the only other punch in the list it takes practice to set up properly in that scenario. Having lost that a few times being caught up for one turn too many on the wrong side of the table.
All hero driven scenarios are super strong for my list for the obvious reasons, Duality of death, places of arcane power etc.
The take and hold missions also work well, my list is a late game list. If Nagash can survive then he will bringing all the models where he needs them. Grave placement is key in these missions.
All in all I like how the list performs but missing out on podiums due to better part of valour is certainly a downful for the army.
Most of the secondary objectives are actually really good for the list, the heroes can survive easily, the list kills things hard and so often I am driven to those missions.
The key to picking these is working out what you need to do to win the scenario FIRST. If there is a hero / monster that will kill Nagash / Dragon and you have to deal with him to win. Then winning the mission will depend on killing him, I like to adopt a win big or lose big mentality and so will pick the objective which means killing said hero.
If I lose then I will lose anyway, winning however will secure both quite easily.
At Blood and Glory I managed to secure all five secondary missions as well as score the highest kill points of all 166 players! Scoring 10320/10000. The list does one thing well and that is kill things! I managed to wipe out every single army I faced whilst not giving up many points in return, the down fall as always was objective play which is the most important thing I have learnt with the list.
It does not play itself, you need to be aware of the mission, be aware of how you will win the primary but have confidence that the army will kill anything in it’s way to doing that!