Welcome to this episode of Optimal Game State. In this video we’re looking at the Death Bladeborn warbands, these are the Underworlds models that also have rules for Warcry.
In an earlier video I looked at the rules on how to use this fighters in your Warcry warband, so if you want to know more about that check that video. You can find the rules for most of these warbands in the Tome of Champions 2021 with a few released in White Dwarf.
We are going to start with the Grymwatch. This is the entourage of a noble Duke as he sets out on quest to hunt noble steeds. At least that’s what these ghouls think is happening in their insane deluded minds. This is a pretty big warband with seven fighters in total.
The leader is Duke Crakmarrow, a variant on the Abhorrent Ghoul King. He is 20 points cheaper, gains reach 2 only losing 1 less toughness and the Berserker Runemark and the associated abilities. That’s crazy good value.
Most of the remaining fighters end up getting compared to the Crypt Ghoul as the Flesh-Eater Courts don’t have a great range of cheap fighters. Just the Ghoul with the next cheapest non-hero at 185. So these new fighters add some well needed range even if the Ghoul does end up winning out.
For Valreek, you pay 5 more and get 2 extra wounds with +1 crit but lose an attack. That’s 2 average damage for the ghoul dropping to 1.67 with Valreek.
Night’s Herald is probably a little better, costing 10 more and keeping the attack profile along with +2 wounds. The real advantage here is that the Duke can use his ability for it, but again we’re only looking at a average 2 damage attack so maybe not.
The Royal Butcher and Master Talon up the cost again, 15 to 20 extra. Despite looking better the Butcher loses that dice keeping the average at 2 damage while Master Talon ups it slightly to 2.67.
Then we have Gristlewel, an extra 25 and still only 2.67. All these ghouls are a bit of a let down. I think I’d still take the Duke just without his Ghouls so he never gets to use his ability.
The last fighter is the Duke’s Harriers. These are similar in ways to the Fell Bat thrall, but obviously don’t take up a Thrall slot. They do have the beast trait which means they can’t carry treasure. They’re almost half the price of the Fell Bat though, just a 20 more points than a ghoul and you’re getting fly move 10 and 1 extra attack although with -1 toughness. That’s a pretty nice option to have and a Flesh Eater court can take one as a normal fighter. The Duke himself is decent value so you could even look at the Duke and the Harriers as a pair for any Death warband at 215 points.
This warband came in the Nightvault box and was released when Nighthaunts were everywhere. All Nighthaunts are flyers have had to pay for that. This box has the Queen herself as a banshee, 2 unique enough models in the forms of Varclav and the Ever-hang along with 4 Chainrasp variants.
The Briar Queen is similar to a Tomb Banshee but costs 25 points more. For that you gain 4 wounds and 1 toughness, but lose 1 move, the destroyer runemark, 1 dice from her melee attack, and 2 range and 1 strength from her ranged attack. So mostly a downgrade.
Her ability is quite interesting. It’s a triple and based on the dice value, so pretty unreliable, but the effect is essentially on average per dice doing 1.5 damage and reducing move of the target by 0.5 until the end of the round. Very interesting ability, but probably not worth the increased cost and the damage drop.
Varclav is 10 more points than a Myrmourn Banshee but with 6 more wounds, 1 less move, and 1 less strength.
The Ever-Hanged costs 5 more than the Bladegheist Revenant but has no upside, losing a point of move and a point of strength.
The Thorns Chainrasps are an upgrade, they’re very similar to the normal version but the extra 1 damage on a crit pushes the average damage from 1.5 to 2. You are losing a point of move, but that might be worth it. That said the Chainrasps don’t see a lot of play, compared to the Crypt Ghoul the Thorns Chainrasps are paying 40 extra points for 1 toughness and fly.
These are the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Rather than simply reanimating skeletons, the Bonereapers use bone as a material to make more perfect vessels.
Mir Kainan at 230 is pretty expensive, but hard to kill with 5 toughness and 26 wounds. His weapon profile best compares to the Mortisan Soulreaper. Kainan is 80 more expensive but does have +1 crit damage and +1 strength on his melee. The ranged is the same, but that was mostly backup anyway with the real work from his Scythe with an average of 5.5 damage compared to the 3 of the ranged attack. Interestingly, this does mean he might be better attacking with his ranged attack twice rather than move and attacking just the once.
Without the Terrifying runemark he loses the Quad but gains his own. Increasing his strength isn’t great, as it’s already 5 on the melee although you could boost the ranged. The extra attack dice is big though as he’s only rolling 3 dice in melee and 2 for ranged anyway, so the impact is big.
He is very expensive, but I have to admit I like him. He’s a nice new option for the Ossiarchs even if he doesn’t necessarily compete out side of that warband.
Binar Khentra is similar to an Immortis Guard, he’s costing 20 less losing 1 move, 6 wounds, and the damage drops from 4.6 to 4. Unfortunately I think that drop to move 3 is his downfall, otherewise he would make a nice budget option.
The mortek guard with shield is the foot soldier of the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Senha is 20 points more and only gets 2 extra wounds, not great.
Karu has a different weapon profile, but it ends up the same average damage of 2, so again it’s just an extra 2 wounds for 25 points. Lets move on.
Harkor is a Mortek Guard with Greatblade. He’s nearly double the price, but the damage goes from 2.6 to 4.5. He is actually a super efficient damage per points fighter, but within the Bonereapers he’s beaten out by his Mortek Guard equivalent, who you can take 2 of for just slightly more.
Nohem is similar in that he doesn’t provide great value, but he does have a range attack and that isn’t something that was available, shame it’s just 2 damage on average.
All of them with a very cool double The Thrill of the Hunt that adds 1 to attacks and strength if the target is already wounded. Unfortunately, it’s only for the next attack, but it’s a nice alternative to Onslaught if you’re moving and attacking.
Prince Duvalle is a Vampire lord but for 20 points less and losing the fly runemark. He gets 1 more wound, but loses 1 toughness. He has all the same runemarks so he can use Thirst for Blood. It’s a triple after you kill a target but heals double the dice value which is pretty good.
He also gets access to the Crimson Court abilities including his unique Fiendish Lure which increases crit damage against nearby enemies. Even as an aura effect for a double, the benefit is so tiny that it’s unlikely to be every worth it.
The fly is a nice perk but with 5 move much of the time you won’t need to use it, so the Prince is good value.
Vellas Von Faine is like the Vyrkos Blood Born, but she’s 15 points cheaper and loses 3 move but gains 1 wound and 1 toughness. The Agile runemark on the Blood Born is used for a double to climb, so losing it isn’t a big deal and the Terrifying runemark opens up that Thirst for Blood triple which is a nice heal option.
Gorath is a Vagskyr but 35 points cheaper. He loses 1 move, 1 strength, and a massive 14 wounds, but he does make for a great budget version. Still decent damage with his average of 4 and as he only has 2 attack dice he gets a lot of value from Onslaught or The Thrill of the Hunt.
Last we have Ennias, who is somewhere between a Fell Bat and a Vargheist.
The Fell Bat is 3 damage, Ennias is 3.3 damage, with the Vargheist at 4 average damage versus T4. Ennias is the cheapest and slowest, but also sits midway when it comes to total wounds. I like him a lot, he’s a fast flyer with good health for reasonably points.
Overall some nice options. Essentially all variations of the classic Vampire Lord giving a nice range for a vampire themed warband.
Note: These are due to change in the upcoming Crypt of Blood box set. Check the site for another article giving the details.
Staying in Soulblight Graverlords, we have the Sepulchural Guard. These are all skeletons and present some pretty cheap options. Remember, all of these are available to a Soulblight Gravelords list while any other Death warband needs to take the Warden if they want access to the remaining fighters.
The Sepulchral Warden is the equivalent of a Seneschal but a little chunkier. He costs 20 more and have an extra 3 wounds, his damage of 3.5 is significantly lower than the 5 of the Seneschal. That’s due to the Strength of 5 which is a sweet spot versus toughness 4. The Warden does have Reach of 2 though which is nice.
Like all of his warband, the Warden has a triple that get a bonus move as a triple which is nice but overall I think I’d favour the Seneschal in most cases.
The Prince of Dust and The Champion are not heroes but are still similar to the Seneschal. Both have an average of 4 damage. The Champion is actually a significant discount when compared to the Seneschal , he’s closer maybe to the Graveguard with Wight Blade who is the most efficient fighter when it comes to damage in the game. The Champion is 10 points more, but 1 point of damage less but harder to kill with 4 more wounds. Unfortunately, he lacks the Minion runemark which means the champion cannot be resurrected again.
Similarly, these guys do not have the Minion trait. Increased points for minor upgrades. Unfortunately not great options. If you do happen to have the points spare and are okay with having a few models you can’t resurrect, theses might see a place, but overall, not a great deal.
Next up the Exiled Dead. This is a Necromancer with some of his creations. Marvoc is referred to as Prentice Marvoc, so presumably that’s a Necromancer in training.
Deintalos is quite an interesting fighter. At 210 that’s a whole extra 65 points, almost a 50% price increase. Toughness is increased by 1 and we do have the typical health increase, this time an extra 5. Where there is a significant difference is in the damage. The melee moves from 3 to 5.3, while the ranged attack moves from 3 damage to 5. So this is a pretty nice upgrade. Range attacks are pretty rare to get your hands on, and this is up there as one of the top ones. If there’s a target with Toughness 4 in range, Deintalos can take two actions to roll 4 dice with each roll of 3 to 5 doing 3 damage and any 6s doing 6 damage each. That’s crazy good.
Along with Deintalos are his creations. Basically electrified Zombies. They costs 20 points more than a normal zombie, that’s a big 50% extra on the standard 40 but you do get an extra dice on attack and an exstra point of movement which is pretty big. The 70 point option ups the strength by 1, but Im not sure if that’s worth it.
A normal Zombie will do 1.6 damage. That extra attack brings the Exiled Dead zombies up to 2.5 which is a nice upgrade. Coyl takes it all the way to 3 average damage. So nearly double the cost of the normal Zombie but with a similar increase in damage. Now, the Zombies weren’t necessarily the go two choice for the Gravelords, for a long time it’s been Graveguards with Wightblades everywhere. Those are 5 damage for 65 points, so well out ahead. These guys are move 4 though, and if you have them together in a clump then the double Crackling Aura could do some numbers. You’re rolling dice equal to the value so a double 6 isn’t unreasonable. Each 5+ will zap for some damage, so for every 3 dice you’re doing damage equal to the number of zombies. That’s not bad.
Last up we have Regulus and Prentice Markov. These do not have the runemarks for the Crackling Auras. Regulus is 5 points more than a Skeleton and just gets 2 wounds out of it. Prentice is decent for his points, he’s only damage 2 but speed 4 and 15 wounds is good value. His ability is a combo with Regulus and for a double you can activate Marcov and then immediately activate Regulus. That’s kind of like the universal ability Inspiring Presence, but then you normally activate your scary leader and follow up by an equally scary fighter, this is not that. These are both chaff figures and doubling them up is actually a bad idea.
So these last two I think weren’t great, but this warband does still have a lot to offer.
Last but definitely not least, we have the Sons of Velmorn. Again another Soulblight Gravelords warband. We can already see some minion traits that don’t have the FAQ elite runemark, so this is something juicy.
Lets start with King Velmorn himself, he’s 5 more points than a Wight King having the exact same stats. Those 5 points do give you a unique to him triple ability that boosting the strength of nearby Sons of Velmorn. They’re already mostly 5, so that’s not as big as it might first look.
He does get all the same abilities as the Wight King, so a double that increases crit damage and a triple to summon dead minions back.
Jedran Falseborn is Velmorn’s Seneschal. He’s a chunky 50 points more with only a minor increase to his damage with his crit increasing by 1. He is much harder to kill though, with toughness 5 and 30 wounds. That’s important because he doesn’t have the Minion runemark and due to his double which stops King Velmorn from being targeted. So if you’re facing against the Sons, you can’t kill the King, you don’t want to kill the minions as they’ll come back, so you have to go through those 30 points of toughness 5. All bad choices. So even though he is quite expensive, I really like him.
Now for the main attraction, Velmorn’s three other sons are comparable to the Graveguard. They aren’t quite the insane efficiency of the Graveguard, but they’re not close. The Graveguard does 5 average damage for 65 points. Thain does the same damage for 70. Faulk is 4 damage for 65 points while Helmwar is 3.5 damage for 60. They also all have access to a double Sibling Rivalry that increases their attacks by 2 for the activation rather than the usual 1 of onslaught. You will need one of the others to attack first, but that’s fine. The minion rune also opens up the Shamblingh Horde double which lets then get a bonus move if they’re close to a Soulblight Gravelords hero.
These are all fantastic numbers and because they didn’t get by the FAQ they are the new hotness. For the same cost as 3 Graveguard you do get a reduction in damage, but get back to pre-FAQ resurrection. Alas, we can’t fix the Undead Dragon as easy, but it’s a start.
Unsurprisingly, I like these a lot. Everyone in this warband is worth playing in Warcry and they all have nice synergies together.
There are two warbands missing warcry rules, I doubt they’ll ever get them and no one will really care. These are Drepur’s Wraithcreepers and Lady Harrow’s Mournflight. These were easy to build kits that they decided to release some Underworlds rules for a year or so after the models came out. For Warcry these are just generic Glaivewrath Stalkers and Myrmourn Banshees and don’t need any special rules.
Alright, so a summary. There are a lot of warbands in here that were a big disappointment. Often because the fighters they were comparing against were just straight better.
- The Grymwatch had the Duke and the Harriers but not much else.
- Mir Kainan himself was interesting, but the rest of his Reapers didn’t really measure up.
- All the Vampires from the Crimson Court were cool, rules and models. So much so I order them while I was doing this review.
- The Exiled Dead had Deintalos the Exile as a stand out, his ranged attack is pretty impressive. His Zombies like the 28 days later Zombies are surprisingly fast which might make for a nice option. They aren’t doing as much damage as the Graveguards but they are minions without the Elite trait so there might be something there.
- Last but not least, the Sons of Velmorn. Velmorn and Jedran are a great combo while the rest of the Sons make for a great side grade following the FAQ.
So overall, pretty good for Death in general, and especially the Soulblight Gravelords. Alas nothing for the Nighthaunts who aren’t doing so well at the moment, but as the leaders of most of bladeborn warbands have been good the Soulblight end up with a lot of options.
If you’re interested in running some of these models, make sure you check out the Warcry Card Creator, I’ve added a drop down at the bottom where you can load up the stats for a fighter. Not all the profiles are fully up to date so you should double check with your source books but it will speed up the process of making fighter and ability cards.
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