Well, it’s only been a week since the start of the year, and all my grandiose plans for what I’d like to do hobby-wise in 2019, but I’m quite pleased to announce that I’ve already been making some great progress with a couple of these plans! I had my first game of the year earlier today, with my New Year/New Army project, and it was Age of Sigmar, to boot! Nighthaunt vs Maggotkin, just a 500-point game to get into the swing of things, as it were, but it was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to getting more fantasy games under my belt as the year goes on!
I’ve been trying to get some Nighthaunt painted up for roughly a week, using the game to try and spur me on a bit. I’ve made some good progress, and there are some models that are coming along really nicely, I feel. Don’t get me wrong, I still have quite a ways to go, given that there will be a lot of Chainwrasps to paint before I’m done with the army, but the models are so beautiful that I really want to try to take my time with them, and while I had been rushing a bit to get them futher along for the game, I feel like I want to try and take some time to do a better job now. Even so, the basic troops unit for the army, the Chainwrasps, can look pretty decent with a fairly simple colourscheme:
I primed the models with Corax White – never a fun thing to do, but between a lot of shaking, and warming it on the radiator first, I managed to escape having the dreaded powdery coating! Everything has then been shaded either with Nighthaunt Gloom, Drakenhof Nightshade, or Coelia Greenshade, to try and achieve a variation of spooky looks across the army. Some models I had painted the cloaks either Ionrach Skin or Celestra Grey, which gives a slightly different finish to the shade than simply shading the primer. There is quite a random look to them, which I do quite like – I don’t want to have a uniform look to my ghosts! I then drybrushed them mostly with Ulthuan Grey, though some were also drybrushed with Deepkin Flesh. I’ve tried to go over most of the “skin” with Drakenhof Nightshade, to give a bit of unity with the Thorns of the Briar Queen warband that I had painted up last year, though I’ve also just left them as they are.
The texture of the models is really quite wonderful for drybrushing, and it has resulted in some quite decent-looking tabletop miniatures already. Last night I then went in and painted all of the rocks with Mechanicus Standard Grey, and some of the bases had been done with Astrogranite. I’ve then shaded the rocks with Nuln Oil, and I’ll probably go back in with Dawnstone as a drybrush to finish that off when I’ve done all of the basing. I’ve then tried to focus my attention on doing the metalwork on a couple of the models, painting it all with Leadbelcher (and then picking out a few bits with Retributor Armour) before shading everything with Agrax Earthshade. I chose the brown wash mainly because I’d misplaced the Nuln Oil, but I think it actually looks pretty good for them – the weapons, certainly, need to look dirty and stuff! So I quite like how that has turned out.
I’m hoping to continue to plug away with these for a while, anyway – I really want to make sure I get the battleline troops painted up alongside the heroes, rather than focusing my attention on the single-models and then finding myself losing interest in the main troops. I’m not 100% sure yet how I’m going to paint the Knight of Shrouds, as I do want to make him something of a centrepiece (until I get Nagash!) but I feel that the fairly simplistic scheme that I’ve been using for the Chainwrasps would also do quite well for this chap, as well! I’ll continue to ponder while I paint the others, anyway, and we’ll see from there!
Army Building Thoughts
So I’ve started really small, with just 500 points, although that is already 23 models! But I’m building up to a much larger list – as I have a lot of Nighthaunt models already, I’m thinking that I might as well build up towards 2000 points, plan out that list, and then focus on painting it up in sections like this. However, list-building in Age of Sigmar is a bit different to how I’m used to, with different considerations to keep in mind!
For those of you who don’t know, there is a Command Point system in AoS similar to that of 40k, in that you can spend your points to grant different effects, although it’s a much more pared-back version of the 40k system. I think pretty much the majority of Hero models in an army will have a Command Ability, although there are three generic Abilities that can be used by any Hero if he is your General. Each costs 1 Command Point to use, and you can use the same Ability in each round if you have the points to do so. You gain Command Points at the start of your Hero Phase, and in addition you start the battle with 1 Command Point per Warscroll Battalion that you include within your list.
So there’s an incentive to build your list around a collection of Battalions. Unlike in 40k, there are unique Battalions available to each army, which are included in your Battletome and they grant you specific abilities if you meet the requirements for them – not only do you have to field the right amount and type of models, but they also cost points to include in your force. So, for example, in the Nighthaunt Battletome there is a Battalion called Deathriders, which requires 1 or 2 units of Dreadblade Harrows, 2 units of Hexwraiths, and 1 Black Coach. These models cost, at a minimum, 700 points (800 points if you go for the 2 Harrows), but you need to pay an additional 130 points to put them into the Battalion itself, which grants the ability to add 1 to charge rolls, and allows models from the Battalion to fight immediately if they make an unmodified charge roll of 9+. It’s basically the Wave of Terror allegiance ability (more in a bit), but will give you access to the ability if you take this Battalion in an allied army.
I’ve built my own army to include two Battalions, which will allow me to start the game with 3 Command Points. Which will be handy, although I don’t actually have that many targets for unique Command Abilities! Let’s look at the list, anyway, and I’ll explain my thoughts a bit more.
Version one has a total of six Leaders and four Battleline units, which meets the list building criteria as laid out in the General’s Handbook. Incidentally, how weird is it that the main rules for Age of Sigmar are laid out across two separate books? I mean, I kinda get it, in that the General’s Handbook is intended for the more serious gamers, and otherwise you can have a perfectly fun game by just using the core rules alone, but something as basic as list building should really be in the core rules, surely? Hm.
I did really want to get Lady Olynder in this list, but sadly she wouldn’t quite fit. I suppose I could do away with the Spirit Hosts, and then replace the Knight of Shrouds with her, and it would still be a valid Battlehost list, but I think that’s probably for another day. My initial plans for the army actually revolved around Lady Olynder leading a banshee-based list, so I was planning to have Dreadscythe Harridans and Myrnmourn Banshees, with the Briar Queen hanging around as well, but that quickly became overshadowed by the desire to have a more broad Nighthaunt army! I do still want to have the Briar Queen in here at some point, but for now I’m actually planning to use her as the Tomb Banshee model, as I feel that particular model doesn’t really go with the rest of the range now. Same story with the Cairn Wraith really, and why I had been planning to use the Liekoron the Executioner model for him instead. But I digress.
There are two Battalions in here, as I said, but while that does grant me 3 Command Points from the off, I only have the Knight of Shrouds who has a specific Command Ability, so the other heroes would be stuck with using the generic ones. However, you can use the same Ability more than once, if you have the CP to do so, and the Knight of Shrouds grants Nighthaunt units wholly within 18″ of him +1 attack. So I can give out +1 attack to several different units each turn, so the basic Chainwrasps can dish out 3 attacks each, while the Spirit Hosts would each get 7 attacks if they were to be targeted with this Ability! Nice!
While all of that is well and good, of course, I do still feel a little bit like I’ve been forced into it because of the Battalions – the generic Command Abilities are handy, but with only three unique Command Abilities in the entire army, I can definitely see myself dropping at least one of them (possibly the Shroudguard) at some point. I’m not sure what I’d replace it with, as I’m already at my max Leaders for 2000 points. Possibly another unit of Spirit Hosts, and then maybe one of the Endless Spells, as they do seem to be quite fun – I know people seem to decry the Nighthaunt spells online, but having no experience with this, I’m all for trying out something new until I get into the groove with it all!
The fancy stuff
Of course, while the army is always made up of the units and the synergies that arise from them all, Age of Sigmar armies also have a whole host of additional stuff knocking about in the background, along the same lines as Chapter Tactics and their like for 40k armies. This is where things get really interesting, and I must say, it was a confusing part of the game to me for a long time!
First of all, there are the Allegiance Abilities – a suite of six for the Nighthaunt, who do not have any kind of distinct sub-faction within the army. There are some powerful abilities here that are almost duplicated within the Battalions that I’m taking, which is why I’ve been thinking it might be quite easy to just ditch them if I feel I’m using up valuable points. Then there are unique Command Traits that can be given to the General. Remember when I said there were only three characters in the Battletome with their own Command Ability? Well, this will allow me to remedy that by choosing, say, the Guardian of Souls as the recipient of a Command Trait of his own. Importantly, unique characters cannot be the recipients of any of these things, so Reikenor the Grimhailer is out for receiving any further Command Traits or Artefacts of Power.
For the purposes of my list, I’ve actually chosen the Knight of Shrouds as my General – for a long time, I considered nominating the Spirit Torment, but I think the Knight is a much more bellicose figure to lead the troops! While he does already have a Command Ability, there appears to be nothing preventing me from also giving him a Trait, so I’ve gone with Ruler of the Spirit Hosts, which allows him to return D3 slain models to a unit within 9″ of him. So I’ve got recursion from both the Guardian of Souls and the Knight of Shrouds, which is going to be useful! Certainly, the Guardian helped a great deal during my first game today, as I managed to keep one of my Chainwrasp Horde units from dying right up until the final battle round!
I’ve got two Wizards in the army, Reikenor the Grimhailer and the Guardian of Souls. The Guardian has got the Spectral Lure spell that allows him to recur Nighthaunt models within 18″, while Reikenor can deal D3 Mortal Wounds to enemies within 12″ (with the potential for D3 more if the initial salvo slays any models). Both can only cast one spell per turn, and their unique spells are both really good. However, I can also give them an additional spell from the Lore of the Underworlds, so why not, right? I’ve given the Guardian of Souls the Lifestealer spell, which dishes out D3 Mortal Wounds on a unit within 12″, and allows me to heal him by the same number of Wounds dealt – as I need the Guardian ‘alive’ for his recursion spell, I think it’s a good enough gambit for him to take one turn off from doing that in order to heal himself in a pinch. Reikenor also knows Spectral Tether, which allows him to heal Nighthaunt Heroes within 12″ – as the most robust of all the units in the list (with 7 wounds), I figure he can be used to help keep others ‘alive’ as well.
While were on the subject of the Guardian of Souls, there are also three different sorts of Infernal Lantern he can be given, under the Artefacts of Power (basically, Relics). I was using the Wychlight Lantern in today’s game, but kept forgetting about it (it wouldn’t have had any effect, anyway). However, I’ve now decided to give him the Beacon of Nagashizzar, which buffs his Spectral Lure spell to returning D6+3 models/wounds, rather than just D6. So I’m guaranteed to get at least 4 models back, or heal 4 wounds, which is just incredibly powerful when dealing with this many Chainwrasps or pulling a Hero back from the brink.
I have the option of adding one additional Artefact of Power for each Battalion in the list, of course, so I’ve gone for the interesting choice of making the Tomb Banshee a wizard through the Midnight Tome – she knows Spirit Drain, which rolls a D6 equal to the wounds characteristic of an enemy unit within 18″, and deals out a mortal wound for each 6+. Finally, I’ve given the Knight of Shrouds Headsman’s Judgment, adding 1 to hit and to wound for his Sword of Stolen Hours. So that should be quite fun!
So that’s the army plan that I’m working on right now! I’ve got my work cut out, of course – it’s a total of 75 models to paint, and detailed ones at that! I still need to buy some Spirit Hosts, and another box of Chainwrasps, as well as the Bladegheist Revenants. But I’m looking forward to the task, as the models are really quite wonderful to paint, and should look fantastic as an army when they’re finished.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to get some more smaller-scale games in as I try to learn more of the intricacies of the game – Age of Sigmar has come a long way since I first tried it out back in 2016, and while many people still seem to think of it as something of a simple game (in my local area, at least), I feel like there is a lot more to it than perhaps I’ve seen so far. Having played one basic game at a very low-cost points level, I’ve only scratched the surface, so I’m looking forward to more!