The main idea is to have an element of presence and versatility around the board and try to limit your opponent’s buffs and debuffs. Shoot for having as many chances to protect your units and what you wanna do without getting alpha struck or snuck up on or lawnmowered through by a ridiculously buffed/synergized unit. Spells are there to limit opponents effectiveness and knock off enemy buff/debuff pieces quickly, hampering enemy’s ability to respond to what you want to do.
I’d prefer Legion of Sacrament but Arkhan being the general doesn’t make the Alligiance abilities worth it. The VLoZD having access to a command ability and artifact (both of which change frequently) to be a survivable general and access gravesites is far more important in my experience. It does not take advantage of Grave guard or morghast buffs as those feel to me as two of deaths more overcosted units. :/
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
As mentioned above your general in LoN must be as survivable as possible, and other than big man Nagasaki a VLoZD is perhaps the faction’s best hero, even moreso than Vordrai and the Mortarchs, specifically because of not being a named character and having access to AoS’s seemingly infinite amount of artifacts, weapons and command abilities. Two methods of healing and his ability and spell are quite nice as well. Boosting VLoZDs spell casting ability with Cogs or another buff that adds a spell is almost always a good idea because I find there are few spells I like to cast more than blood boil on a multi-wound hero. Performs better than Curse of Years in my experience (even though the wound ceiling is lower, a 50/50 shot at another wound and reroll is very, very nice.)
Aura, his the shield and ethereal amulet give VLoZD a sweet enough save to perform like a Death version of Morathi and that tends to be how I use him. Taking an objective by himself, hero hunting, or an intimidation piece and usually working spitting distance of a gravesite.
All the minor heroes in this list are usually bubble wrapped by the units and Arkhan and the winged Vamp Lord usually “sneaking” around terrain or behind my lines so he can cast their spells and do their thing. High movement on both means they can dart to an objective if need be. I rarely drag Arkhan into combat because he just can’t hack it against even tiny hordes and heroes of his same class outfight him by a mile. His spells and buffs are necessary to snipe characters and change the shape of the battlefield. Vile Transference keeps him alive and gives him, effectively a nice shooting attach to pick away <6 would heroes. The possibility of it doubling on an unmodified 9 means he can one shot your opponent’s tiny buff heroes like hags, castellants, etc.
All of the units in list are at sub-optimal or non-min/max sizes and that’s on purpose. The amount of times I’ve tried to ressurect my 40 blob of spears but haven’t been able to because of terrain or the 9” away from enemy is far too many. So smaller blobs are easier to resurrect, heal up to full strength and when they die, it’s just a command point to bring back. Hopefully Kurdoss helps with that. 🙂
Arkhan’s battalion, to me, is only one worth it. I’m sure I will do a list rundown with that sooner rather than later because I find the 130 points for the battalion more than pay for the extra CP, artifact (which, if you had to quantify it I’d say most artifacts are worth between 30-60 pts) and lower drops (which to make an army 5/6 drops is worth some points at least.)
The 220 points dedicated to Kurdoss is the most flexible in this list. You could allocate it to more units/bodies VERY easily. He’s almost another 30 blob of skellies or chainrasps by himself, which I’m sure is more enticing to most players. However, because I find his model so amazing and his command ability one of a kind in AoS, I chose him. It also offers a modicum of control since most players have never played against him. I find players take their command points for granted and with odds being that it goes off roughly twice each game, I’m more than comfortable spending the points here and sending him with the rasps or to go kill a hero. More test games will tell.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
This is where this list excels. I try to have all my spells down, in order, beforehand and most of what I’m doing during my opponents turn is adjusting which spell goes where and if situationally a change up (in order or a realm spell) would be more beneficial. Try to think of the effect you want, then pick a spell that does that rather than attempting to force a spell into a situation.
Arkhan’s ability is one of the best in Death, maybe the game. I don’t typically stack it, but the extra 6” for spells is a god(of death)send. Lots of opponents either don’t factor it into their measurements or if they do, it forces them to play more conservatively. Noting it also helps other Death wizards that Arkhan is buzzing around can really set Deaths magic phase into overdrive and completely shift how a turn can look.
Endless spells are there to mold the board in the Death player’s favor. Palisade can be dropped into terrain gaps or use its base size to give units headaches, Shackles can do much of the same as I tend to use it to ensnare units than for its movement debuff, though that’s pretty spectacular as well – on units fast and slow (2” move dwarf horde – hilarious!) Geminids feels pretty self explanatory: D3 wounds into a unit with a buff hero that you’re going to shoot with another spell is lovely. And -1 hit (or -1 attacks on hitty hordes) protects Arkhan and VLoZD even more than they already are. Cogs and Spellportal are nice alts/additions. You can drop 5 wolves they fit right in no sweat. Realm spells are usually cast with Arkhan’s second spell, the vamp lord if I don’t need Pinions movement shenanigans or one of the necros. Rarely am I depending on them being cast. Typically just icing on the cake right before my most important spell.
A lot of this is described above but the units are for board presence and travel with buffy heroes (unless opponent has deep striking/off board movement then usually the wolves are long screens using their base size to stretch them out as far as possible.
Vamp lords job is to fly around and capture ignored objectives or provide some support to a combat unit or just add spells into the mix.
VLoZD is my “not gonna die in one or two turns of combat” Morathi proxy to fire lethal spells and maul whatever is in front of him. Don’t let him get mobbed by multiple big heroes or cornered and he’ll be fine. Always use the chalice sooner rather than later.
Arkhan I keep away from combat and usually use cogs/portal/etc to maximize his spells efficiency given his + to cast. He’s usually farting around close but still behind my lines. Offensive spells force him close to the enemy and he usually doesn’t hold up, so I’m looking for range-y, shoot-y spells to chip away at characters. If you need a spell to go off, give it Arkhan and save it for after an endless or Curse of Years, those are usually targets for unbinds.
Necromancers are great buff/debuff pieces and after Van Hels, just use whatever spell is best for the occasion. Overwhelming Dread helps a lot to hamper big units and Decrepify cripples heroes, other than that, always peek at the realm spells and see if something can help you out situationally. Only having one and losing them sucks so two for 220 is fine by me.
Not much run with secondaries but having a versatile list where no one piece is pivotal to success keeps me in most fights and having some options with what to do with each piece. I love secondaries and think they should be included in most tourneys instead of kill points as they keep both players involved and with something to fight for.