Soulblight Gravelords List: Vyrkos Dynasty Grave Guard

Coven Throne (witches and vampire from Raging Heroes)

Last weekend I took my new Soulblight Gravelords list to the Bad Moon Café tournament in London. Five games over two days – all of them great fun and against great opponents. One draw (actually a win of one point), two very close losses of two points, and two bigger losses. So not quite the 3-2 performance the list got at the London Open, but am enjoyable – and educational – experience. In this post I’ll discuss the list I took and how it did in the games.

Grave Guard (models from Asgard Rising and sold by Mr Lee’s Minis)

For the London Open, I took Amulet of Destiny on the Coven Throne. For Bad Moon, I swapped it for extra spells. On balance, I barely used the extra spells but wished frequently that I’d kept the Amulet, as the 5+ ward save would have kept the throne alive at some crucial moments.

  • Lineage: Vyrkos Dynasty
  • Grand Strategy: Prized Sorcery
  • Triumphs:

Coven Throne (310)*

  • General
  • Command Trait: Pack Alpha
  • Artefact: Amulet of Destiny (Universal Artefact)
  • Lore of the Vampires: Amethystine Pinions
    Necromancer (125)**
  • Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact)
  • Lore of the Deathmages: Fading Vigour
    Neferata, Mortarch of Blood (365)**
  • Lore of the Deathmages: Decrepify
    Vampire Lord (140)**
  • Lore of the Vampires: Amaranthine Orb

20 x Deadwalker Zombies (115)*
10 x Deathrattle Skeletons (85)*
10 x Deathrattle Skeletons (85)*

1 x Corpse Cart with Balefire Brazier (80)*
20 x Grave Guard (280)***

  • Great Wight Blades
  • Reinforced x 1
    3 x Fell Bats (75)**
    20 x Grave Guard (280)***
  • Great Wight Blades
  • Reinforced x 1

Endless Spells & Invocations
Emerald Lifeswarm (60)

Core Battalions
*Battle Regiment
***Hunters of the Heartlands

Total: 2000 / 2000
Reinforced Units: 2 / 4
Allies: 0 / 400
Wounds: 129
Drops: 7

The initial plan for this list was to buff the Grave Guard, making them extremely dangerous in terms of damage output but also keeping them well protected. This worked well in general, and I discovered that they do well enough without Neferata for her to go and gain objectives and battle tactics elsewhere on the board if needed.

Grave Guard command (champion and lantern-bearers from Mierce Miniatures, musicians from Punga Miniatures)

Grave Guard armed with Great Weapons get two attacks each (three for the champion), 3+ to hit and 4+ to wound, at -1 rend and 2 damage, with unmodified wound rolls of 6 dealing a mortal wound in addition. In this list, they can be buffed by the Vampire Lord, who gives them +1 attack, and by the Coven Throne, which can give a unit wholly within 12″ +1 to hit, wound, and save. Meanwhile, the Necromancer can cast Vanhel’s Danse Macabre on a unit to let them pile in and attack twice. All these abilities last until your next Hero Phase, so you can get two turns of use out of them (and potentially buff the other unit with the Vampire Lord in the second combat phase). Fully buffed, a unit of 20 Grave Guard can thus make 61 attacks,hitting on 2s and wounding on 4s. Assuming the target has a 4+ save and uses All Out Defence, this means an average 34 damage plus 8.5 mortal wounds. Twice.

However, Grave Guard are not very tough, having a 5+ save if they take the Great Weapons, and one wound each. This is mitigated a bit anyway by the 6+ ward from Deathless Minions, but to make them tougher in this list they get the +1 save from the Coven Throne, and at least one unit is positioned within the -1 to hit aura from Neferata and the -1 to wound aura from the Corpse Cart. Neferata can also cast Dark Mist to make a unit ignore negative save modifiers. Emerald lifeswarm brings back d3 per turn, which combined with Invigorating Aura and Deathly Invocation gives the potential to bring back 9 in a turn.

Meanwhile, the Deadwalker Zombies and Deathrattle Skeletons serve as screens from enemy charges, and the Fell Bats can fly ahead and block an enemy unit for a turn. Placing gravesites well also means you can get around the slow movement of the Grave Guard, skeletons, and zombies, but the trade-off is losing out on first turn buffs.

Deadwalker Zombies

All good in theory, but in reality the enemy gets in the way with their units, abilities, and tactics. Generally speaking though across both tournaments I was able to do at least some of these things each turn, and I’m happy with the list. A couple of losses were against more powerful armies, others due to poor decisions on my part and unfamiliarity with my opponent’s army. Results as follows (though I don’t remember the specific scores):

Big wins:

Ossiarch Bonereapers Stalliarchs: here I think Soulblight does what they do better. I was able to swamp the objectives and destroy key enemy units (Morghasts) while bringing my own back reliably.

Big Waaagh!: This looked very close on the table, and the combination of a Maw-Krusha and Kruleboyz shooting was scary. However, I had the bodies to take objectives early and hold them, keep Neferata alive, and finally corner the Maw-Krusha with 20 Grave Guard and destroy it in one turn.

Close calls:

Cities of Sigmar: two games against similar lists (Frostheart Phoenix, Phoenix Guard), one win and one loss, both by two or three points. These felt like very balanced matchups, with similarly diverse and synergistic armies with tough blocks of infantry.

Karadron Overlords: extremely close, first time facing the army. Here I had the bodies to control objectives, but my opponent had the shooting to take out heroes. Two point loss, which would have been a win if my Necromancer hadn’t miscast and killed herself, thereby denying me my Grand Strategy points

Nighthaunt: extremely fun game, won by one point which went down as a draw. Here my opponent had more durable, if less killy, bodies in the form of 70 Chainrasps, which I couldn’t shift from two of the objectives. Again, a good matchup.

Valiant defeats:

Sylvaneth: a really fun game, and the first time I encountered Gotrek, who I was not prepared for. He killed 50 Grave Guard, and I learned that 20 of them unbuffed is not enough guaranteed enough damage to kill him. They took him down a few wounds, then all died. A resurrected unit of 10 almost finished him but with one wound remaining Gotrek destroyed them too. Oh and the Warsong Revenant did thirty-something mortal wounds to half the army with Spiteswarm through the Umbral Spellportal. Key lesson was avoid Gotrek at all costs and be more aggressive against the Warsong and Durthu.

Ironjawz: brutal. Using the Vice battleplan, starting on the short table edges. I built a nice castle to get all the buffs and debuffs, screening all sides with zombies, skeletons, and bats. Not enough to hold off two maw-krushas and ten brutes, which destroyed most of the army. However, I delayed one of them with the Coven Throne’s Shudder spell, which shuts down a unit for a turn by makin it unable to attack the Throne. The Vampire Lord stayed alive long enough to buff a unit of Grave Guard I’d kept in reserve, letting them kill a full unit of ten Brutes and the Megaboss on Maw-Krusha in the late game, but that wasn’t enough to turn the score around.

Lumineth Realmlords: Teclis and and two blocks of Sentinels with Wardens. Very happy with this just not being a 0-20 loss – I had the bodies to hang on to the objectives for a while, and Grave Guard coming out of a gravesite in Lumineth territory were able to take out a unit of Sentinels. Fun game, much more enjoyable than I’d expected.

Unmitigated disasters:

Daughters of Khaine: Morathi and the bow snakes. My first time facing that list and I was not prepared, in particular for Morathi and the Shadow Queen’s mobility. I made the big mistake of putting almost all my summonable units in the grave, not realising the Shadow Queen could get across the board so fast. She killed the Coven Throne and Corpse Cart turn one, while Morathi sat on a gravesite in my territory, meaning I had hardly any options to summon my troops in other than in one corner.

Lady Badriya Trantafyr

All in all these two tournaments have been a big learning experience. I like the list, and might tweak it slightly – including a Wight King to make Grave Guard battleline, and having a unit of 30 skeletons as a tarpit, or swapping the Coven Throne for a Vengorian Lord to have another monster. There’s nothing in the list that I feel isn’t doing something, though the Coven Throne is a big target that isn’t as tanky as Neferata, and got killed a lot. In future I’d keep Amulet of Destiny over the extra spells. It’s been good playing against a range of different armies, and I now feel I could go to the next tournament knowing what to expect. That will be Warfare at the end of the month, and hopefully the army can go 3-2 again…

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