Not constrained by such menial confines as a “battletome”, plastic kits or the respect of your friends, the PDF from Forgeworld is actually a surprisingly well-rounded document, with a huge variety in units.
This particular army list was designed to compete in every phase of the game, offering brutal shooting, a very resilient array of units, some serious combat potential, and blinding speed (at least by Duardin standards).
I wanted the army to play to it’s strengths, and it’s designed to compete at the highest level possible (for the Legion, at least…). The army, I feel, is in a weird place in the meta, where it can bully middle tier armies, but sits under the top tier, and can sometimes really struggle to compete. What this means is, you need to scrape every half a percent of advantage you can and play your ass off every game.
Burning Skies is a good example of scraping advantages. When an enemy unit that flies moves more than 6″, on a 4+ it takes a mortal wound. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s something! Chipping a mortal wound off here and there can have huge ramifications later in the game. Most of the time, my opponent is not going to care, and will take the mortal wound on the chin when it happens, because if someone lets Burning Skies influence their movement phase, they’ve just handed me an advantage.
All Legion of Azgorh wizards having access to Fireball is handy, but my only LoA wizard is the Daemonsmith, who has a little spell called Ash Storm that (in my opinion) is far, far superior.
The real kicker is Blackshard Armour. On paper, this doesn’t look that important, but when you start playing games, you quickly realise how cooked this allegiance ability is. It basically allows every LoA unit to ignore the first wound allocated in each shooting and combat phase. So, after saves, after damage has been calculated, I can just throw one of those wounds away. One wound doesn’t sound like a lot until the army has ignored dozens and dozens of wounds over the course of the game.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
The artefacts and traits are pretty limited within the LoA allegiance, but there are still some rippers hidden in there. A pretty common build among Legion of Azgorh players is to slap the Grotesque (-1 to hit in combat) command trait and the Armour of Bazherak the Cruel (5+ DPR) on a Taur’ruk to make him hard as nails.
I’ve looked at swapping out the Armour for different realm artefacts (like Ignax’s Scales), but I’ve gotten a LOT of mileage out of the Armour, so until I come up with a better idea, a 5+ DPR will do just fine.
When it comes to command abilities, there’s one on the Taur’ruk that has its uses, but typically, my command points will be spent elsewhere…
Three heroes is less than I’m usually comfortable with, but each serves a very specific purpose.
The Taur’ruk is built to be an all-purpose utility hero, able to take a beating, hold an objective, move more than 4″ a turn and kick some ass. Rend -2 Damage 3 is no joke on his axe, and he’s quite capable of going toe to toe with combat beasts far outside his 160 point weight division.
The Daemonsmith for 100 points is a steal. He buffs war machines, he has a 36″ spell that only casts on a 5 to stop a unit running and slapping -1 to hit, and if you wound him, he gets better at unbinding. Makes sense, I guess? It’s rules like this that have my gaming mates questioning whether I’m making these scrolls up. His little grenade is also surprisingly reliable, and even though it has a pathetic range, I use it more times that I ever expected to.
Lastly is the allied Sorcerer Lord on Steed, who is in the army to buff and babysit the Fire Brigade, my 12-man K’Daai unit. This guy is the one who spends 90% of my CP, to either auto-run 6″, re-roll charges or ignore Battleshock on the K’Daai. He has Oracular Visions in the pocket if Daemonic Power doesn’t go off on the Fireborn, but if it does, typically that buff will go on either the Taur’ruk, the Skullcracker or the big unit of riflemen; whoever is most likely to be taking a beating in the immediate future.
It was really important that all three of my heroes are either wizards or bearers of artefacts. Everyone has multiple purposes and offers utility in several different ways.
Alright. Let’s talk about the bulk of the army.
The 12-strong K’Daai unit is hands down the heart and soul of the army. They can run and charge, they can fly and they kick out an ungodly amount of attacks with a 3″ reach, meaning that throwing 60 attacks at D3 damage each per turn is not remotely uncommon. No rend hurts them, but they more than make up for it with weight of attacks. Supporting them with a fast hero like the Sorc Lord is a must. They’re Bravery 6, which is mediocre, and they need to be getting to their destination every turn!
For battleline, I went with a 20 and two 10’s of Fireglaives. They’re very similar to Ironsworn, except that they can interact with enemies up to 20″ away, compensating for their slow movement. Ironsworn can have a role in the army, but in this list, they’re dead weight, so it’s Fireglaives all day. Ranged mortal wounds on unmodified 6’s to Hit is pretty handy as well! The Legion of Azgorh doesn’t care about your Look Out, Sir!
Magma Cannons made it in because, again, they offer me high-quality, reliable, ranged mortal wounds. I’m only rolling one dice, which means only one opportunity for failure, unlike Hit-Wound-Save-Damage, for example. They’re slower than Christmas though, so correct deployment is vital.
Lastly, I have the Skullcracker. Looking at the warscroll, it’s not hard to recognise the sheer damage potential from this model! I overcharge the engine every combat phase (unless I’m fighting a single Dire Wolf), because it’s whole job is to charge in and slaughter. 4D6 attacks is a bit swingy, but it only takes one good roll to put the fear in my opponent, and compel them to commit far more than 200 points to make sure it dies. With a 3+ save (and occasionally Oracular Visions), it can take a punch and offers another fast-moving blender unit with a point of rend on its main profile! For some absurd reason, it also scales down very, very slowly, so I can afford to be half dead and still sling it into the enemy to reliably crush something.
I personally think all three of the Legion of Azgorh battalions are pretty limited in their use, either having heavy taxes or huge points investments. Hard pass from me.
I’ve already talked a bit about the Sorcerer Lord, but the allies that raised the most eyebrows from everyone were the Chaos Warhounds. Their stats are pretty shithouse, with Bravery 4 and a 6+ save, but they give me something my army desperately needs. A cheap, fast, disposable screen that has a significant footprint. And if people ignore them, the 16″ run move is enough for them to put an immense amount of pressure on my opponent’s back field objectives. I think in a vacuum, they’re trash, but in the context of the army, they are easily one of the most impactful units on the table.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
I really only have a couple of spells at my disposal, with only two casts in the army. Originally, I had a second Daemonsmith, Geminids and Shackles, but I dropped them in favour of the two 10’s of Warhounds with zero regrets. Magic is a fairly big weakness, as I really like my spells (typically just Ash Storm on whatever horrific killing machine I want no part of, and then Daemonic Power on the K’Daai). So, when the game becomes congested with Endless Spells that are causing mayhem in my army, I have to make some tough decisions on how I use those two cast attempts.
Let’s first talk about the elephant in the room. This is a 12-drop army. I’m of the firm belief that if I’m not getting down to 4-5 drops, then there’s significantly more benefit to be gained by simply taking the units I want, and running the army my way. I’m very, very rarely choosing who goes first, and I’m OK with that. I’ve built my army to be able to go first or second and react very quickly. If people give me first turn, I’ve got a surprising amount of movement and my Magma Cannons are going to be punching holes in something valuable. If they take first turn, I have the screens to mitigate a lot of impact, then retaliate with force.
The army has so many threats in so many different parts. Depending on what I’m facing, the strength of the army shifts. If it’s hordes, my K’Daai are the stars of the show. If it’s Stormcast, my shooting can prove to be a major problem to their heroes. K’Daai are the obvious “big bad” in the army list, but anything that gets ignored is going to cause issues. This is where being a 12-drop army plays to my advantage. I have enough units to draw out most of my opponent’s army before I start deploying important stuff. Warhounds and Fireglaives are typically going in certain locations no matter what (usually front line screens and objectives respectively). From there, I’ll save my power units for last. My K’Daai might go down last, or perhaps my Cannons to get the perfect shot, making sure that they have maximum impact on my opponent. If my opponent out-drops me and I have the luxury of lining up their heroes with Cannons, they then have to make a tough choice on who goes first. And that is an opportunity for them to make a mistake that I can capitalise on.
The most important thing about this army is squeezing every ounce of power from every single unit.
I need to have a plan going into every game.
There are no teleports, set ups, or coming in from a board edge here. My cards are on the table as soon as turn one starts, so I don’t have the movement tricks that other armies do. To counter this, I need to deploy smart and be thinking three turns ahead. I want as many of my guns as possible firing every turn of the game. Planning turns ahead and moving with purpose with my Fireglaives means that if they DO kill what’s right in front of them, they have another target straight away. As tempting as it is to stand still with them for the Re-roll 1’s to hit, I’ll very rarely utilise it unless they’re on an objective and don’t have anywhere else to be.
The same can be said for the K’Daai. Between moving, running, charging and piling in, I gotta make sure that they’re having a big impact every turn, and getting to where they need to go on the battlefield. Very often, they’re the unit launching at an enemy objective, and while they have the speed, damage output and numbers to do the job, I need to be playing a solid movement and charge phase with them to be where you need to be. They’re also a unit that needs practice with, to learn what they can and cannot handle, because it’s easy to throw the unit away.
They NEED a hero nearby for Battleshock.
Once I got the feel for the unit, it’s very viable to hit 3-4 enemy units at a time, because 3″ reach means that all of those attacks are going to go somewhere important! And don’t forget Kiss of Fire. That rule has won me games. Every half a percent counts!
The K’Daai and the Skullcracker both have 3″ reach on their weapons. It’s rare and it catches people out a lot!
The Cannons also need to be moving every turn. They can’t run and only have 3″ movement, so I always want to have at least two juicy targets in range at any given time. If a target dies, I don’t want my pair of 140 point artillery pieces with nothing to do but apply thicker eyeliner. If their ideal target this turn is well in range, the Cannons want to move toward the next target and fire back over their shoulders.
The Warhounds are the last piece of the puzzle. They fill many roles, and depending on what I’m playing, I’ll usually either use them as meat shields to absorb a charge, or flankers to hastle objectives and maybe even kill a little unit or hero (up to 20 attacks 4’s and 4’s can actually do damage). I just have to make sure I’m hitting first!
When it comes to match ups, obviously the two worst ones are Idoneth Deepkin and Sylvaneth, purely based on how much they impact my ability to shoot what I want. It’s not to say those match ups are unwinnable, but they certainly pose challenges.
Overall, I really like how the army plays. I feel like every unit serves a purpose, and there’s very little fat. Everything poses a threat in it’s own way, and every unit can have a huge impact on the game. Damage comes from everywhere.
Thanks for reading,