This list is designed to be fast and hit hard with a solid alpha strike followed up by a serious second wave of attacks should the first strike fail to seal the deal. As a player of Nighthaunt primarily I have a bias toward speed and flight, so taking almost exclusively Crypt Flayers is part of the theme of the list.
Also, the Mortal Realm your court comes from is flavor in this list. You could potentially swap out the Flayed Pennant for something more fun if you do not think charges will be an issue. In this instance I made this list from Ulgu for mainly narrative flavor.
The main ability granted by our allegiance that plays the most part in the idea of this list is the Frenzy command ability available to the new FEC tome. Spending a command point can allow a unit to pile-in and attack again, much like Danse Macabre on Legions of Nagash necromancers. Unlike that spell however, this ability is not limited to once a battle round. The stipulation is that a unit cannot benefit from it more than once.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Feeding Frenzy: With three command points banked on turn 1, we can potentially trigger the Frenzy on all three of our six ‘man’ units. This results in our main units fighting with the ferocity of twice their number, and with fly and high speed, this should allow us to dictate where and when to drop the hammer on key enemy forces.
Hellish Orator: This command trait is forced on us by playing Blisterskin, but since we are extremely CP heavy to summon and trigger our feeding frenzy, the additional CP on a 4+ is never a bad thing.
The Eye of Hysh: Again forced on us, luckily the battalion lets us take the Flayed Pennant as it is more useful.
The Flayed Pennant: Allowing us to reroll charges is extremely important as we want to be the one making the charges. This list is pretty glass cannony so if you cannot dictate the engagements you are likely to get pulled down.
Abhorrant Archregent: He is our general, mainly because it lets him camp out on a Charnel Throne and summon his retainers for free while also staying safe to generate us CPs with the Hellish Orator trait. His ability to regen 3 wounds a turn also means it will take dedicated efforts to remove him from range, especially while hanging out with his ghoul body guards.
Abhorrant Ghoul King on Terrorgeist: This guy is both bruiser and distraction-fex rolled into one. The terrorgeist is extremely good on his own, especially with the Gruesome Bite rerolls increasing the chances of a flat 6 Mortal Wounds in combat. His spell can also boost the survive ability of himself or key Flayer Units in the course of the battle. He also summons more Flayers to join the fight, so there is that.
Crypt Infernal Courtier: This guy is our bannerman and the one who will really lead the charge. He is required for the Deathwatch battalion, but also can return slain models to our Flayer units increasing their survive ability. The Flayed Pennant goes with him, and he should be in the middle of the main line to give its benefits to as many units as possible.
Crypt Flayers: They are fast and spikey. They also have FLY allowing them to circumvent terrain and enemy formations. They can also take advantage of the Blisterskin ability to redeploy any units with “FLY” in the manner of a deep-strike. This allows them to move swiftly by normal means, and then get redeployed to seize objectives or take advantage of opportunities that arise during the game. Each Flayer also has wounds of their own, meaning when the Courtier returns two on average per hero phase, that is 8 additional wounds restored to our forces. While this is not the kind of recursion that we see in other Death forces… if the initial alpha strike hits hard enough, retaliation should not wipe Flayer units completely and the returning of 8 wounds a turn not including the newly summoned units from our Abhorrants should keep the list ahead of the attrition game.
Deathwatch: Our battle line and courtier fill the requirements of this battalion, and the command point and artifact alone would make it worth bringing. The addition of ability granted to allow one of the Flayer units in the battalion to pile-in and fight during the hero phase is gravy. This forms the basis around the ‘2nd wave’ of our alpha strike. On your second hero phase, select the most dangerous or crucial Flayer unit to return models to with the Courtier, then use this ability to make the ressurgent unit pile-in and deal initial damage. This hero phase combat could free up the unit, or give you vital information on how the rest of your turn needs to shift.
If you did not do much damage to those witches that have your units tied up in the middle… then you know you need to shift focus. If you cleared out those last survivors from the last round, now you have a freed unit of Flayers able to relocate or setup for another charge elsewhere. The ability to fight in the hero phase cannot be overstated in my opinion.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
For the most part, I would stick to the signature spells provided by our Abhorrants. The Archregent has the ability to cast a second spell, so flavor the list with a second spell of your choosing. The additional attacks from his signature spell is more valuable in this list, and the 5+++ from the Ghoul King on his Terrorgeist adds some stiffness to the list.
The plan is simple, and that is the strength and weakness of this list. You want to engage the enemy with all three Flayer Units as soon as possible on your terms. To get the most of the battalion, a unit from the battalion needs to be in melee in your hero phase. Unless the enemy is also charging you turn one, this means you will not use it until turn 2.
That said, Ghoul King should summon his Flayer unit for free when he starts near the Charnel Throne immediately before he charges off for battle. Those ‘free’ Flayers should deploy from whichever board edge will make the most impact in your game. This is dependent on too many factors to make a formula to follow, but look for support heroes or artillery you can hunt with the flanking deployment. Maybe there is a backfield objective to claim, or maybe you can just make the opponent nervous so he makes a mistake.
The Archregent should stay on his throne surrounded by his ghouls. This should also be places in such a way to hold home objectives or otherwise help the battle plan. His ability to generate CPs on a 4+ needs to stick around. By being near his ghouls he can benefit from Look Out Sir! making him harder to shoot off of his throne. Camping his throne also lets him hold onto his summoning ability until later in the game. Doing this serves two purposes at least. First it allows us to keep a unit of our choice ‘in reserve’ to summon onto any board edge we need. Twenty Ghouls showing up to outnumber an enemy on an objective turn five? More Flayers coming on to corner a fleeing opponent or flank a floundering melee? More is the better. Additionally, his ability in reserve draws your opponent’s attention to him. As long as he has not used it yet, he has upwards of 200 points of units inside him that if your opponent can kill will deny it to you. Any heat you can draw away from the main line will widen your advantage. Obviously if your opponent has the ability to remove him easily like Shootcast Eternals or x4 Warp Lightning Cannons the opposite is true and you want to summon as soon as possible, but those are edge cases.
Lastly, charging with your Flayers can be an ‘art’ all its own. Charging a large enemy block from opposite sides and not piling in much can heavily reduce their ability to strike back as their are pulled between two enemy units and the pile-in rules will keep a large number of their models out of action for the first round of combat. Flayers are on large bases, and this means most horde units can drown them quickly if not careful. Target priority is key to success with this alpha strike. You need to cripple the enemy’s primary damage dealing units in the first strike if not wipe them out.
Even if you do not succeed on demolishing the enemy’s best units, you need to whittle them down enough that your Flayers can survive the strike-back. If you can enter your turn two with Flayers still engaged, then you can launch a second flurry of claws with the Deathwatch battalion and at least one more Feeding Frenzy. If your Hellish Orator gained you a sweet-sweet CP from his throne, then you can get Feeding Frenzy twice in your 2nd turn. This potentially means your Flyers can pile-in and fight a total of six times between them on turn 1, and then pile-in and fight six more times on turn 2. If the game is not decided by then, you can potentially repeat this every turn that your Regent generates you an extra CP.
The terrorgeist is best used to distract or hold down a flank to allow you to swarm your primary targets in Crypt Flayers.