Army Review: Undead

While I am a big fan of the traditional army review format, they usually only show the opinion of one person playing in one particular meta. In reality even within the same gaming group there is often a lot of disagreement over which units are top tier and which leave a lot to be desired. So I decided to format these army reviews in a way that captures that debate.  

A massive thank you to Luis, Mike, Pat and Tom for all their help with this army review.


The Rating System

Each unit in the army is given a rating /10 using the scale below.

Note that the score given is how the unit compares to all other units in the game, not just compared to other units in the army. However, each unit should be considered in the context of this particular army e.g. a Phoenix in Salamanders may be rated differently to a Phoenix in the Forces of Basilea.


The ‘Expert’ Panel

Luis Serra
Hi, my name is Luis and I am from Spain. I played wargames as a teenager but I quit for several reasons (mainly money hahaha). Then, a few years ago my cousin and a friend told me about a new wargame that was coming out in kickstarter and didn’t had any issues that made me lose interest in the past, and that is how I was hooked into KoW 2nd edition and I have been enjoying the hobby ever since.

I chose undead as my first army and to be fair I am a slow painter, although I enjoy a lot the hobby part of the game. I have been expanding my undead army over the years. I really like the model range of undead and to be honest I prefer to have a vast number of units from one army and be able to make different builds, than to have limited options for two or three armies.

I love the hobby, I love the game and I love the KoW community.

Undead is a great army (hated by many, hahaha). They have a really good variety of units that allows them to play competitive in almost every style you want: they can grind, they can hit you in the face, you can spam many trash units… I really like that, there are other armies that are more one-dimensional, but with undead you can always surprise your friends with totally different types of lists and thanks to that I never get tired of playing them.

Their main strength is Surge and shambling units, on the downside you don´t have much access to shooting

Mike Adkins
I’ve been playing Kings of War for around 4 years, just like all the other Warhammer refugees, and have really come to love all the aspects of the game and community.  I live in Virginia, and you can find me at most events in or near the Mid-Atlantic region (once it’s safe, anyway), or at my own event, the Vanguard GT.  Along with Jake Ciarapica and a few other folks, I help run Dash28 and you also may have seen me on our YouTube channel.

I started playing Undead towards the end of 2nd edition because it was an army that I had consistently had trouble against for years and I was really attracted to all the creepy and gory hobby potential.  I managed to finish in the top half (barely) at the 2020 US Masters with them, and also won 2nd place Army Appearance.  So if you ask me how to paint Undead, I can give you a really good answer, but my tactical advice might be a little iffy.

Pat Zoro Allen
Patrick Zoro Allen here, Kings of War premier Has-Been that people sometimes listen to for some reason. Undead are the reason why I’m an ever-was! I won the first US Masters with an undead list! I’ve also written an article on that style of list building and that particular army on Dash28. Since then my Undead has been mostly sidelined as I’ve moved on to other projects, but I still take them out every now and then just in case people forget that Undead are a top tier army.

Tom Robinson
Hi I’m Tom Robinson, you may remember me from such reviews as the Forces of the Abyss and Elves! I also technically own an Undead army, mainly consisting of 6 regiments of Zombies and Flying Wyrms (back when they had 2 broken varieties of Flying Wyrms) which I used in 2nd ed to win the UK Masters by a landslide – it was supposed to be a joke list showing how ridiculously cost effective Undead were (and they still are). I like to wheel Undead out to run silly gimmick lists without having to be afraid of being seriously hamstrung because Undead can do literally anything as well as anyone else and often better. I’ve run them a lot on UB and played against them exhaustively at top levels so I reckon I have a good grasp of them. I regard them as the top tier faction in KoW so it’s the roster to remember when thinking about building competitively. 


Skeleton Warriors

Photo credit: Steven Henry

Luis – 6/10
Skellies!!! They are probably one of the reasons that people want to build Undead armies in every fantasy wargame.

In KoW they are an expendable unit.  A unit that is useless in killing things but they are cheap. I never regret including several of them as they can be so useful: guarding flanks, chaffing, blocking, scoring objectives…

Sooo they hit on 5s, they are slow, have decent survivability for their points and are a very cheap unlock unit. The only reason I didn’t rate them higher is a redundance issue, Zombies have the exact same role, but they are cheaper. That said, that def4 can sometimes prevent late game casualties and also skellie troops are great, they can be rated as 8/10 perfectly, cheapest scoring unit in the game and the perfect chaff for your shambling line.

You don´t want to put items on them or pay for the giant rats upgrade, as you want them as cheap as possible.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Mike – 3/10
The Undead list is an embarrassment of riches.  There are simply so many good options that plain old Skeletons just never make the cut.  I suppose some people might find a 55 point Fearless troop appealing for some lists, but it doesn’t really work for me.

Pat – 5/10
A lot of people talk about Shambling being more benefit than negatives. I think that’s true for higher speed units and smaller footprint units, but its absolutely not true for Sp5 infantry that’s not in a horde footprint. The troops are still incredibly cheap and great chaff for other shamblers if you need that. The regiment is completely out-shined by zombies, unless you live in a meta with lots of arrows. The horde can compete against the zombie horde as the defence matters a lot more when the nerve is that good. I would only buy the Undead Rats upgrade on the hordes personally, and even then there’s often better use of the points. 

Tom – 7/10
Skeleton Warriors are absolutely fine. They’re a super solid, cheap infantry unit. Any line infantry that is rocking Fearless, Life Leech and are Def4 at 85 points for a regiment is good. But you never see them and the problem there is that Zombies are cheaper and Revenants do the job better. Comparing them to Shield Wall in KoM and they’re 25 points cheaper but do the key jobs far better.


Zombies

Photo credit: Andrew Hawley

Luis – 9/10
They are as cheap as hell and they unlock. Everything said about Skeleton Warriors can be applied here, but they are cheaper. Many times, it won´t really matter if they are def2 as many damage sources come with piercing/crushing strength. Probably nerve is too good for their points or should be irregular (shut up Luis, RC are listening…).

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Regiments are brilliant utility pieces and hordes are a good chunk of nerve. The only size I don’t really get is the legion. For almost the same points you can get a horde plus a regiment and they are way better in every sense.

Photo credit: Arndt Arndt

I use them mainly in two ways: keep them back safe from danger and play the scenario while the rest of the army does the job, or screen, chaff and guard flanks.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Mike – 8/10
Zombie regiments will get you all the unlocks you need at a great price.  I liked the legion in 2nd edition, but I think the regiment size is really where they shine in 3rd.  They can sit on objectives,  they can chaff, they can tarpit; just don’t expect damage output from them and you’ll never be disappointed.

Photo credit: Mathew Sellick

Pat – 8/10
Regiment 10/10, Horde 8/10, Legion 6/10. Elliot should probably average that score to an 8.

The zombie regiment is amazing. The cheapest unlock in the game by 5 points (rabble at 75) they also boast -/15 nerve which is just enough that the enemy could potentially bounce even with their hammers. The horde is a solid bucket of nerve for only 115, the legion is good but outshined by the other options and doesn’t give enough benefits. I would only buy the Undead Rats upgrade on the legion personally. 

Photo credit: Justin Gisby-Clark

Tom – 8/10
Unreasonably cheap! Yeah Def2 is crap and they’re vulnerable to light shooting but they’re the best cheap unlocking Unit Strength in the game and you still get the Undead benefit of Fearless and Lifeleech to keep them valid and to be honest you can kill things with them too! I honestly can’t count the amount of times I’ve surged a regiment into a flank or rear to add in a chunk of damage or kill stuff. Hell for a unit that’s expected to sit on an objective while the mincer character/ uber caster they unlock does stuff they don’t half carry their weight.

Remember, inside every zombie there’s also a skeleton, that’s two for the price of one, great value!

Photo credit: David Musgrave
Photo credit: Ray Weiandt

Skeleton Spearmen

Photo credit: Bob Nelson

Luis – 4/10
Ok so as I see it there are 5 infantry units very similar in the Undead rooster, speed 5 shambling not very punchy units: Zombies, Skellies, Spearmen, Revenants and Mummies. Each of them being more expensive than the one before them with some profile bonus.

Skellie Spearmen are in the middle of that list. For 20 points (on regiment level) you get +3 attacks (which I really don’t care), +1 US (nice), and Phalanx which I don´t see to be very useful on a def4 unit unless a flyer/cavalry heavy meta.

The problem is that you want skeleton to be cheap and I prefer to spend extra points somewhere else. And if you want an elite version, I think revenants are a better choice. I never field them but I guess the more viable size will be the horde to protect a flank against cav/fly units.

Photo credit: Justin Gisby-Clark

Mike – 4/10
 I guess if you really really really want Phalanx, and you really really really want to play Undead…

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Pat – 6/10
The bump in points makes the spearmen cross the threshold into US3 territory for regiments which is great. 105pts for a -/15 phalanx regiment is solid and a great way to get unlocks and US into a list. The horde pairs great with Undead Rats and either Aegis of Elohi or Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture as an alternative to a Revenant horde.

Photo credit: Arndt Arndt

Tom – 5/10
The only really poorish unit in the infantry roster. For 30 points more Revenants are a better option. Standard Warriors are cheaper by a margin too and who really cares about the couple of extra attacks, it’s nice but it’s not enough and is too dear a cost. Also Phalanx, you’re paying for it and honestly whose going to throw cavalry and stuff at these when the rest of the Undead list won’t have Phalanx? You’ll struggle to force the Phalanx I reckon and at that point just go for Revenants.


Revenants

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 8/10
Oh boy! These are so great.  Def5, great nerve and cheap. Great value for the points in all three-unit levels.

The obvious choice is the horde level. One of the greatest anvils in the game. -/24, def5 and Lifeleech is a nightmare to rout. Their size also makes them able to hold 2 objectives in scenarios like pillage. They are perfectly fine naked, but is the only unit I consider paying the giant rats upgrade, magic items are also good on them.

Ok troops, -/13 def5 for 80 points? I think they are a great screen for shambling lines. Your enemies will really have to commit resources to eliminate them, and hitting on 4s means that they will win the chaff battle. Regiments are also great value for their points. A de5 -/17 for 125 points is also a good choice.

Photo credit: Mathew Sellick

Pat – 7/10
The only thing keeping them from an 8 is speed 5 shambling is very slow. This unit can take a lot of punishment and keep going. I would always buy Undead Rats for both the regiments and hordes. The hordes are good for other items, but if I do put an item on them I would keep it cheap. Hammer of Measured Force would be the only offensive item I’d consider, but any of the defensive items is great. Since they lost the ability to take 2-handed weapons I don’t really like troops all that much, for a similar cost I’d prefer a Zombie or Skeleton regiment.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Mike – 7/10
 Solid defence and solid nerve at a good price.  I prefer them in hordes to really take advantage of their survivability, and with a Bane Chant caster nearby they can deliver a decent counter punch.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Tom – 8/10
The last word in anvils. For a relatively cheap price -/24, Def 5 with Lifeleech in a roster with the best support characters in the game how can you go wrong? They can fight reasonably well, Brew of Strength and some Drain Life is a serious threat and when the list has an abundance of built in Crushing among the hammers it’s easy to target a Bane Chant too. I often run two Lich Kings and a Necro, they’re horrific supporting Rev cav hordes, no reason they can’t do the same for the infantry versions.


Ghouls

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 7/10
There are only two non-shambling cheap units in the army and this is one of them. They are extremely fragile, fast and cheap. I almost only consider the troop level, as the regiment quickly escalates in points value and the horde will have difficulties moving at the double or getting unhindered charges.

Troops are great chaff. Don’t get fooled by their low point value or lack of Crushing Strength. They have a decent number of attacks and people tend to forget they have Wild Charge (D3). You will be surprised how many times you manage to get juicy flank charges with some Banechant or hill bonus.

Photo credit: Jesse Bilbija

Mike – 6/10
I’ve tried using Ghoul troops as chaff, and had more than one game go poorly because they wavered.  There are just too many Fearless chaff choices in the list for me to keep trying them at this point.  Larger units of them also don’t appeal to me.  Speed 6 light infantry with Wild Charge (D3) probably works for someone, but it’s not the Undead army I want to play.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Pat – 8/10
Say “troop of ghouls” 6 times and you’ll know how I start any competitive Undead list. 70 points gets you a unit that can march right up to the centre line to capture loot tokens and threaten to charge anybody up to 2.99” deep into the enemy deployment zone. They are just about the perfect cheap offensive infantry unit as the only defensive tech they get is LIfeleech (1). Every other stat is geared towards cheap offense.

The Regiments are good unlocks if you want to stay away from shamblers. The Hordes do have a bucket of attacks, personally I’d only take one with Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar as I find that Pathfinder pairs well with a giant base like that both in the movement and combat phases.

Photo credit: Jose Vega

Tom – 6/10
Bit of a missed trick I think, they’re good, but being the only non-shambling  base infantry unit kind of makes them feel the odd one out. They get an advantage in attacks alongside sp6 and Wild Charge that makes them surprisingly speedy. The drop in shooting might make them more viable but I think they serve best as chaff troops and that’s it really, maybe a cheeky speedy horde could have some legs.

Photo credit: Arndt Arndt

Wraiths

Photo credit: Sam Sowden Garcia

Luis – 8/10
Wraiths are a fast very defensive unit. Speed 7 makes them a very fast shambling unit, Defence 6 and Lifeleech 1 is a pain in everyone’s ass, and for their offensive stats they are meh but Strider makes the quite regular. They compete in the same role with Revenant Cavalry.

As troops they are very efficient thick chaff. And as regiments they are brilliant anvils. I prefer the troops naked and health recovery items are very good on the regiments. In any case have a Necromancer with Weakness nearby and they can be so annoying.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Mike – 8/10
They’re pricey, they’re irregular, but they’re still worth it for what you get.  Fly, Strider, CS1, Def 6, Fearless.  If you take them as troops, it doesn’t even matter that they are irregular.  I’m a big fan of Wraith troops.  They make great chaff and are great at clearing softer chaff.  Defence 6, Fly, and Shamble means that when your opponent whiffs in combat, they will end up in someone’s flank or rear.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Pat – 10/10
Ridiculously cheap for a unit that can literally do it all. Solid, consistent damage, Defence 6, Fly, Nimble and Shambling (Sp 7 fly, Nimble is definitely where its more beneficial than negative) make a unit that’s hard to come to grips with and hard to pin down. Even now that they’re irregular the regiments are still solid buys as an anvil that some units just won’t be able to deal with. The troops are great thicc chaff and one of the premier sources of surgenanigans. The Necromancer is the natural pairing as they provide cheap source of Surge and can get Weakness to really ruin your opponents day.

I wouldn’t take anything more than Blade of Slashing on a troop. The regiments could benefit from Aegis of Elohi, Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture, or Brew of Haste. Ideally I would like to see their points increase in order to bring them out of the ‘too good’ range.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Tom – 8/10
Somewhat reduced in capacity over time as the nerf bat has continued to whack them (deservedly so), Flying, Strider, sp7 and Nimble in an army with the best support in the game will always pose a threat. At the troop level is probably ideal now that they’re irregular but they make for great thicc chaff, a class screen for Wights and against some units they’ll make a solid tarpit. Once battlelines close and you have some surge bouncing around they can jump over those little clipping edges of other units to set up for juicy 1” surges. Hey, 10 CS1 attacks is pretty sweet and adds up in the flank!


Mummies

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Luis – 6/10
Mummies are a solid anvil with decent attack value, but it is another case in in the army where I think there are other units that can perform the same role better.

They come in two flavours, troop and regiment. If I had to choose the troops, I think Wraiths perform better. Wraiths don´t regen and have lower nerve but have higher defence, they also have less crushing but Strider mitigates that, but above all wraiths are Cheaper and are way faster. And for the regiment I prefer Zombie Trolls regiments for the better offensive value

It is a good unit and maybe it is just my personal opinion but I think they are too expensive and their attack value it’s just meh. If you want pure anvils there are cheaper choices and if you want anvils that hit there are better thing to consider.

Mike – 6/10
Mummies look really good.  Really grindy, really hard to kill.  I’ve even got some of the Mantic models, but I’ve yet to actually open the boxes.  Whenever I think about playing a list with Mummies, I end up thinking I should probably play Empire of Dust instead.  It’s probably a sign of how good the entire Undead list is when a unit like Mummies just seems ‘ok’.

Pat – 7/10
They fit better in an Empire of Dust list thanks to the Aura and Casket of the Damned, Mummies are still a great unit to anchor a line. The highest nerve an infantry regiment can have combined with Lifeleech (1) and Regeneration means that they can grind with the best of them. Crushing Strength (2) makes up for its mediocre attack stacks to provide a consistent 2-4 points of damage a turn. Troops are good thicc chaff or 2nd liners for a shambling based list. 

Tom – 7/10
Mummies are a bit out of place in Undead for me, something of a legacy unit that is hard to justify taking off people. Anyway -/18 nerve, Regen 5+ and Lifeleech is tasty, they hold their own in a fight and are great objective players. The smaller footprint is nice too but unfortunately for a little more points Revenant hordes are better tarpits. I think it’s another case of units that are good but are sitting in a list with the apex examples of unit archetypes across KoW as competition.


Soul Reaver Infantry

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 10/10
Vampires are not that good as you might think…Who am I fooling? They are just awesome hammers!!! 

The best attack value in the game, very resilient, decent speed, small footprint, regiment point value for magic items… Soul Reaver Infantry can one shot almost any unit in the game, don´t die easy and very manoeuvrable due to their small size. Speed 6 means that they will need some support to be able to charge but pair them with Revenant Cavalry or Wraith troops and you will have the perfect delivery system.

Regiments are the way to go with these guys, but I can also see some use in the troop size as 2nd or 3rd line glass cannons.

They are perfectly fine naked, but I find that waver mitigation items are a really good investment on them. You can also go with Blessing of the Gods or Chant of Hate if you like overkill, with these items on and a Banechant nearby they pretty reliably one shot any unit in the game.

Photo credit: Dan Zarembski

Mike – 9/10
I know what you are wondering.  Why didn’t I make them a 10?  Well…  I don’t think they are overpowered for their price or in need of a nerf.  They are definitely top tier but it’s not because they have some weird special rules or gimmicks, they just have the stats to murder everything they touch.  They are simply everything you want in an infantry hammer unit, with only the slight drawback that they can waver.  So put some waver mitigation items on them and go to work.  Regardless of how well balanced the game is, there will always be a ‘best’ unit in each category.  Fluff-wise, it makes perfect sense to me that that unit is a bunch of heavily armed and armoured Vampires.

Photo credit: Jose Vega

Pat – 10/10
25 attacks at Crushing Strength (2) is bonkers. Able to deal 10-11 damage to a defence 5 unit without any support on a tiny infantry regiment base is incredible. Good nerve and LIfeleech (2) means they’re a pain to shoot off the board. Their biggest downside is lack of waver mitigation which is easily remedied by a choice of 3 different magical artefacts. Their “biggest downside” is that if you’re taking a waver mitigation item you’re not taking a ridiculously cost-effective Blessing of the Gods or Chant of Hate. Ideally I would like to see their attacks go down to 15/20 along with a points decrease as well in order to bring them back down.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Tom – 8/10
The minciest mincers to have ever minced. 25 attacks, CS2 and me3 is a horrific amount of damage output. Those 5 extra attacks are what tip this unit from worrying Def5 15/17 to an almost guarantee of a waiver/kill especially with the aforementioned support pieces throwing out reliable Bane Chants or Drain Life. At a base average they’re doing 11 damage and the extra 2-3 you need to push to an average double 1 is easy to find with all the fighty chaff screens you can pick from. Their major downside is only being 15/17 themselves and you’re going to invest in waiver mitigation yourself to make sure that weight of attacks stays relevant. Being so expensive, middling speed and vulnerable to waiver unlike most of the rest of the list marks them out as the prime shooting target so while you have to invest in the. Saying that much everything in the Undead roster is a bit too cheap so you can afford to!

Photo credit: Keegan Cross

Skeleton Archers

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Luis – 2/10
For me skeleton archers have them same role as Zombies but they have a ranged attack. The problem is than the ranged attack is quite bad and will just do a couple of wounds in the whole game, you don’t have many shooting options to synergize with either, they really suck at combat (zombies suck, but these guys really suck), they are way more expensive and on top of all that are irregular (why in hell are these guys irregular, if they were regular I would consider chucking a couple regiments).

So, you have a unit that is very similar too another, with a minor advantage but lots of drawbacks. I never find a way too include these guys in my lists and I think I never will (unless they become regular). If you want light shooting units, just use allies.

Mike – 4/10
I guess if you really really really want archers, and you really really really want to play Undead….

Pat – 4/10
Solid archer unit. Undead can actually make a pretty nasty shooting list with Balefires, lLghtning Bolt, and archers to provide a little bit of meat. Irregular isn’t as big a hindrance since Skeletons and Zombies are cheap enough to provide some unlocks. Since they’re irregular, I’d only ever take them in troops or hordes. Their Melee of 6 is a bit of a wet fart, but consistent with other evil armies bowmen.

Tom – 4/10
They just don’t fit in the Undead list for me. You can certainly use some surge shenanigans to get shots off without the move penalty which is cool but Ra based shooting took too much of a hit overall so outside the prolific Balefire set up you’re relying on Liche Lightning and siege engines for shooting, failing that pack 40 surge into a list and fire Zombie Trolls instead of arrows, far more fun.


Deathpack

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Luis – 7/10
These guys are very similar to ghouls, but they still have some flavour that makes you consider including them instead of them or even combining both.

So as Ghouls they are great chaff/loot token grabbers. They don’t hit as good as them but they are Nimble and Stealthy. Stealthy helps them not to be shot off the board but that nimble is great it helps them to move at the double and pivot to get loot tokens and also, if they get waver and are screening units, it allows them to pivot and fallback getting out of the way and letting charge units that are behind them.

Regiment is my way to go with this unit, specially because hordes are same unit strength and I don’t care for extra attacks or nerve for Deathpack. 

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Mike – 6/10
I want to like Deathpack.  They’re another unit that struggles to make the cut because the rest of the list is so good.  I feel like they could be decent chaff for Wights, since they don’t Shamble and are Nimble.  But I always end up taking Wraith troops for that instead, and other folks tend to use Revenant Cavalry troops instead.  

Pat – 8/10
A great alternative to ghouls. If I’m only taking 4 troops of ghouls I’ll also be taking 2 regiments of death pack. Speed 6 Nimble is good enough to get in the way, Stealthy provides some safety from small arms fire. Their lower height means that they won’t block line of sight to anything which can be good (if you’re chaffing for Soul Reaver Infantry and want to charge) or bad (you can’t screen those Soul Reaver infantry from Ignore Cover shots at all).

Tom – 6/10
They’re good chaff! Nimble and Stealthy with good nerve, let down by being sp6 and more importantly in a roster with Ghoul troops, Zombie regiments and all manner of budget options that do this or that with a better impact on your list so unless you have a very specific list in mind leave them at home, it’s not that they’re bad, it’s that other things do it better.


Revenant Cavalry

Photo credit: Justin Gisby-Clark

Luis – 9/10
As resilient as their foot version, but higher speed and TC2. They come in 3 sizes (troop, regiment, Horde), each one having a very different role in the army.

Troops are the real good stuff and the reason I rated this unit with a 9. They are the perfect thick chaff: resilient, fast and cheap. With -/14 def5 stats they are a tough unit to deal with and the enemy will have to commit resources to deal with them. Speed 8 makes them able to screen even non-shambling units as SRI (maybe not Werewolves) not only because they can keep up the pace but also it allows them to sidestep and let the unit behind them to charge, also height 3 will able to block sight and keep units safe from war engines and so, it also provides a great threat range. Attack value is not great and you will not out grind other thick chaff, but they will do couple of injuries. And they are cheap enough to be expendable. You probably don’t want to stick any item to keep them cheap.

Regiments is the size I see less viable. Same goodness as the troops but with higher nerve, double attacks and pricier. They are a good mobile anvil or support combat unit. The bad point is that their attack value is mediocre when TC is on, and quite bad when Hindered, Phalanx or Disordered. They also pair very good with any magic item like: terrain mitigation, combat buff or the Wine of the Elvenkind for Nimble/Surge shenanigans. My problem with them is that for that points they will lose one to one combats to almost anything of similar points, and if you want a mobile anvil Wraiths are way better.

Hordes are great also, pricy but great. They have similar same defensive stats than the foot revenant horde but gain: TC2, +3 speed and more attacks, for 100 more points. They are a mobile anvil that will one shot almost any unit on an unhindered charge. They are great but they are a big investment in points, as they need support to be efficient (chaff, surge or other spells) and probably you want to give them either Sir Jesses Boot’s of striding or the Brew of Strength, so you kind of have to build your list towards them. Still a great unit.

Photo credit: Jesse Bilbija

Mike – 8/10
Even with the CoK 2021 price increase, they are still really solid.  The troops are, of course, widely used as thicc chaff and are great in that role.  People also make good use of the hordes, you just have to think of them as a Speed 8 anvil rather than a hammer. 

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Pat – 7/10
Best way to look at them is a mobile thicc chaff/anvil. The troops are a lot of Undead generals go too source for screeners and chaff and its easy to see why. Cheap source of defence 5, -/14 combined with speed 8 means that if you get a full move on top of turn 1, any advancement of the enemy will be put into charge range.

Regiments are a great source of unlocks and can provide a couple points of damage while keeping the enemy in place for 1-3 turns. The horde has an amazing threat range and is nearly impossible for a single unit to kill. The horde is probably the only unit I’d consider items on. Aegis of Elohi, Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture, Brew of Strength or Brew of Sharpness are all solid additions.

Arndt Arndt

Tom – 8/10
So before the deserved price hike they were a 10, absolutely horrific. Now they’re a 8 and still excellent. They are one of, if not the only cavalry unit in the game that works at all three unit sizes. Def5, -/14, -/17, -/24 nerve is great for a cut price cavalry unit and there’s a reason they alongside Butchers were the go to thicc chaff. I used to run two hordes, 2 regiments and 3 troops with a shit ton of Surge and just roll across the board like the Rohirim. The amount of angles you can free up for sneaky surge tricks, the ability to grind like heavy infantry, the wealth of perfectly tuned support casters. God they were a blast and so much scope for finesse play that you wouldn’t expect from a mass of knights. Maximising the Me4 TC2 can be tricky but so worthwhile. With some surge I’ve had hordes of these charging first turn which is hilarious, for most Undead builds after sp7 anything with shambling is actually a bonus compared to not having it I’ve found.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Soul Reaver Cavalry

Mike – 8/10
They aren’t Defence 6 any more, but they are still an excellent cavalry unit.  The only real problem they have is that Wights and Soul Reaver Infantry are both more effective as hammers.  But I think they are better than Werewolves, so they are still my preferred fast hammer unit.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Pat – 8/10
No longer the auto-take, Soul Reaver Cavalry are still really good. That such a unit can be outshined in a list speaks to the sheer variety that Undead has to offer. Even with its premium cost, I still prefer Wine of Elvenkind over any other item. But Blessing of the Gods and Chant of Hate or even Brew of Sharpness are all solid options that take advantage of its regiment status. I would rely on their speed and chaff to protect them from wavers so I would not take any of the waver mitigation items on them personally.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Tom – 8/10
So these guys are awesome heavy cav. Slap Nimble, Pathfinder, Wrath etc on them and they will work wonders. Not really much to say about them they’re a rock solid option sacrificing a bit of shooting survivability compared to say abyssal horsemen but coming in at the top end of the attack stat with 20. My feeling has always been that since they match or outstrip the chaff options you may as well take the infantry version for better combat ability and then the chaff options are more viable. Still, how can you look at that stat line and not be impressed?

Photo credit: Keegan Cross

Werewolves

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Luis – 7/10
I really like Werewolves, I really do, is one of those units that gives this game its tactical depth, but… (I will develop later).

Werewolves are a finesse hammer. Awesome mobility (speed 9 and Nimble) great defensive stats and good offensive stats but they are expensive. Their strength relies on out manoeuvre your opponent as you will not be able to rout many units in one go. Their problem is that the army lacks the support units that will make them shine, if this was a minor issue with SRC, it is a big deal with these guys. The cheapest unit that can keep speed with them and block units is the Lykanis, and he is expensive enough to care about sacrificing him. The unit doesn’t have any gargoyle type unit, and most of that type of units are irregular and you can´t ally them.

Still a viable unit, and I tend to field them quite often. I like to give them the Pathfinder item, to take profit of their mobility. My second option is Brew of Strength for extra punchiness but that makes them a very expensive unit. I always pair them with Lykanis, Vampire on Pegasus and any other fast unit in the army or allies (Tortured souls are my favourites).

I mainly use them as Hordes, but I can see value in regiment as flank harassers.

Mike – 6/10
It’s kinda like with Mummies, except when I think of playing a Werewolf list I end up thinking I should play Herd instead.  There’s nothing exactly wrong with them, but for basically the same price I’d rather have Wights.

Pat – 8/10
A rating of 9/10 for the first unit with Brew of Strength. A rating of 7/10 for any unit without Brew of Strength, so probably an 8 overall. The Undead variant is my favourite of the nimble large infantry archetypes. They’re high defence means you need serious attention to shoot them off compared to Lycans. Their height and speed allow for better positioning and more nimble shenanigans than Fallen. With Brew of Strength you can take more frontal charges. Without it, its best to be patient and wait for a flank. For a second unit I’d prefer Maccwar’s Potion of the Caterpillar, Staying Stone, or Blessings of the Gods. I wouldn’t take regiments at all due their cost and footprint size. 

Tom – 7/10
Super fast, nimble with a competent attacking stat line, again what’s not to like? Don’t see much of them these days but the only thing that’s really changed is a minor hit to item costs and choice. I reckon the rub comes from Soul Reaver cavalry being nearly as quick with better item cost as a regiment and so if you go Strength on werewolves you’re actually paying more than Nimble Soul Reavers which are slightly better. Additionally Wights with Haste are another excellent competitive choice where that surge shenanigans can really play its part. This unit acts as a scalpel in a list full of top tier hammers that can through magic or items do the same job often cheaper. Again it’s not because they’re bad, they’re great, but everything else is better and cheaper.


Zombie Trolls

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 8/10
I love Zombie Trolls. I just love them. It maybe just that I love their aesthetic but I play them really often.

They are a mid-range point value unit with: great defensive stats, good offensive value, average speed, reasonable small footprint. They are a great addition to any slow shambling line. One of their best qualities is that they synergize very good with Necromancers’ Vicious aura and other units with the zombie keyword. They are very resilient and maybe don’t seem a very good hammer but with the aura and a Banechant nearby they put 9 dmg on average which is amazing for their points.

They really shine when things get close and personal, as if properly positioned they will get many flank-surge charges opportunities. I prefer them in hordes and I tend to take more than one paired with at least one Necromancer and some screening units. They really need screening units as they will be almost always out charged and they also need protection from shooting. I don’t usually give magic items, but I sometimes give them: Pipes of Terror, Healing Brew, Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture or Brew of Sharpness.

I also see value on the regiment size as screening units or thick chaff, but there are many competitors in the army and I usually pick other units for that role.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Mike – 7/10
I’m a fan of Zombie Trolls.  Their stats are solid enough at a decent price to make for a good battle line unit.  I usually put a Necromancer with the Vicious Aura and Inspiring Talisman behind a couple of hordes of them along with a Goreblight for a solid battle group.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Pat – 8/10
Solid and dependable. The ability to gain Vicious from Necromancers can make the Zombie Troll a great all-rounder. If I was investing in shamblers and surge, I’d be hard-pressed not to include two hordes of these guys to anchor a portion of the battlefield. 

Tom – 8/10
God are these cheap. A great mix of points efficient offense and defence. 18, CS2 Me4 is enough of a hammer to make it stick when they attack and -/17 with Lifeleech is right on the line for what can be considered a resilient unit. There’s some great (as we all know by now) support options available, the super cheap Necromancer sporting the Vicious aura combines solidly with the innate surge and cheap Bane Chant. The roster is tailored to get the best out of every Undead unit and with the cheap cost I think people miss these in favour of Wights etc. You can build a solid line with three hordes of these and a Necro, at that point the trolls are almost matching Werewolves and Soul Reaver cav, that Necro is almost free!


Wights

Photo credit: Mathew Sellick

Luis – 9/10
Wights are amazing, but to be honest I don’t play Wights because I don’t have models for them, hahaha….

Wights are premium Zombie Trolls. For 70 more points you get, +1 to hit, Brutal, +1 movement, and Fly, Woow. The only downsides they are irregular and they don’t synergize with the Necro aura (who cares). They have Ogre Siege-breaker offensive stats, which is awesome and great resilience. Movement 7 means they can outcharge almost every infantry or large infantry units, and Fly means that they can sit behind a cheap height 2 unit and be able to charge pass them when needed, or just charge pass enemy’s chaff. They are also eligible for surge shenanigans which is scary with that attack power.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Horde size is the most preferred one for obvious reason, but I really like regiment too. They are a good support unit that will add 4 dmg average + Brutal to any combat, and it is a good unit to field separate from your army to hold a distant objective as your opponent will have to commit resources to deal will it due to their US 2 and good defence/offence stats. Their Fly combined with the narrow footprint also allows some juicy fly charges.

My favourite item for both sizes is Mace of Crushing as it gives a nice attack boost for ridiculous 5 points. Damage recovery items or Brew of Haste are also good choices.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Mike – 9/10
Wights, the other top tier Undead hammer.  CS2, Fearless, and Brutal makes them more consistent in combat than Werewolves.  Speed 7 and Fly makes them faster and more manoeuvrable than most large infantry.  Their only drawback is that they are irregular, but Undead don’t really struggle for unlocks so I’ve never found it to be a problem.

Photo credit: Greg Harris

Pat – 9/10
Another flavour of hammer, and a good one too. Brutal, Crushing Strength (2) and Melee 3 are all great on a Flying, speed 7, large infantry profile. Shambling allows some great surge tricks. They’re appropriately costed, but also everything you want in a hammer unit.

Photo credit: Justin Gisby-Clark

Tom – 9/10
The only thing holding these back from a 10/10 is sp7 and irregular. They often just struggle against comparative hammers being outpaced and while Undead get an absolute abundance of unlocks it stops Undead just throwing three hordes of these things every game. Again, the perfect roster of support characters are what make these so infamous. That perfect offensive stat line doesn’t really need the item support freeing you up for haste items or just naked as is as they don’t really need anything, they have everything a hammer needs in a statline. I think they’re still too good, too much of the star unit in the Undead list looks like they were given everything they wanted, priced appropriately and then had a discount thrown in for good measure.

Photo credit: Jose Vega



Balefire Catapult

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 7/10
One of the best war engines in the game. Indirect, piercing 2 and 48” range is very good but unholy flames are amazing. Almost every hit will become damage.

If you are planning on taking them you want to take three of them. They are also the only real range threat in the army. Taking them means the opponent will feel the rush to come to you and maybe you can take advantage on that.

That said I am not very fond of war machines in 3rd (except maybe Organ Guns) because they don’t score, they are kind of swingy but specially because there is a very popular army called Nightstakers on which EVERYTHING is Stealthy and you will feel crippled playing against them with Balefires.

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Mike – 7/10
I feel like they lost a little something with the change to cover in Cok 2021 but are still a good option if you want long range shooting.  The trick is to get as much value out of them as you can during deployment, so it doesn’t matter as much whether they hit anything or not.  Either drop them first to dissuade your opponent from deploying in their line of sight, or hold them until the very end so your opponent worries about where to put every unit.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Pat – 8/10
Often ignored because most undead generals tend to focus on combat. However they can compete with the best warmachines due to the consistency that Unholy Flames adds. In an army that can have a lot of shamblers and surge you can use them to tip any combat in your favour with some proper planning.

Tom – 8/10
So compare these to the KoM equivalent and they get Fearless which is great for counterbattery. They lose a Piercing which the Unholy Flames ability more than makes up for. So they’re straight up better all round. Only rock thrower equivalent that beat these out is the Angkor in the Abyssal Dwarf roster and probably better overall after that got nerfed. Oh and you can Surge and shoot these so while situationally there’s some early game plays to take a hill or wood which nobody else gets to do, but also Fearless -/11 is just plain better than everyone else when it comes to counterbattery.


Goreblight

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Luis – 6/10
I really want to love this guy, I field him quite often and never really disappoints me but every time I think he is a little bit expensive for what he does.

The idea of an Undead Shambling monster with squared base really shock me when 3rd edition came out as undead never had something similar before, also the idea of an undead monstrosity is very cool too.

So, he has the keyword zombie and has a very similar profile of a zombie troll horde. Same defence stats, almost half the attacks on average, 1/3 US, smaller footprint and the amazing Cloak of Death.

Photo credit: Keegan Cross

He synergizes perfectly with Zombie Trolls and Necros. But I always think…Wouldn’t be better just pay 15 more points and field a Zombie Troll horde instead? I mean you get double attacks and 3 times US. Even if you can get flank charges easier doesn’t matter because the horde has double attacks. The only reasons against that thought are Cloak of Death and that he can charge into narrow places or get easier multi-charges where the horde can’t.

I think he is not great but he is a viable little chap and you can have very cool models to represent him.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Mike 7/10
It’s a baby giant on a 50mm base with Cloak of Death that you can Surge into flanks, plus its got the Zombie keyword so it can get Vicious from the Necromancer aura.  What’s not to like?  It’s not like there’s a lot of competition for monster/titan slots in the Undead list.

Photo credit: Ray Weiandt

Pat – 7/10
Great mini-giant. Shambling and a 50x50mm base always pairs very well together. He really shines when pair with a Necromancer to provide the Surge and the Vicious aura. Lack of Strider is easily made up by his amazing Cloak of Death ability.

Photo credit: Andrew Hawley

Tom – 7/10
I think these are another much maligned choice. Cloak of Death is horrific and a 50mm monster in a surge army is able to project a lot of threat, able to fit snuggly in battle lines, hard enough in a grind like a horde of Zombie Trolls. 175pts is a bit of a steal and goes a long way to make up for the inconsistency the Goreblight has on the attack. Imagine without Cloak this unit would be about 150pts, that’s mad.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Ghoul Ghast

Photo credit: Ghoul Ghast

Luis – 7.5 (6/10, or 9/10 with wings – averaged to 7.5/10)
The Ghoul hero, a great 3rd edition addition to the rooster. He inspires Ghouls, which I often don’t care about because I use Ghouls as troops and Inspired troops have more possibilities to get wavered (better dead than wavered for those guys). But he has reasonable speed and good offence value for a cheap combat hero. Also 12/14 nerve is not to be undervalued as it is very tough to crack in one go for low attack units (Even a dragon will not have great chances to one-shot him).

The good stuff comes when you give Wings of the Honeymaze to him. Then his charge range becomes 21-23 and you have a cheap, war machine hunter, hero disruptor…and many more roles, for just 135 points.

Mike – 7/10
The big selling point for the Ghoul Ghast is his 6 attacks.  A lot of sub-100 point characters will let you down when you need them to do that all important 1 wound to disorder an enemy unit.  6 attacks with Melee 3 and CS 1 is a pretty safe bet, so if you want a hero to fill that role then the Ghoul Gast if your best choice.  Put Wings on it, and it’s one of the best war engine hunters in the game.

Pat – 6/10
Not quite as hardy as other army’s berserker hero thanks to the lack of Fearless. He does however get Lifeleech (2) to make up for it. Stock, he’s a great way to add some damage to a combat. With Wings of Honeymaze he’s amazing at sitting down flyers and shutting down war machines since he still retains his Wild Charge (D3). He’s very susceptible to Lightning Bolt however. 

Tom – 6/10
With Wings of Honeymaze (because otherwise there’s no point) this is a great little backfield botherer. I’ve had a Duke on Aralez in a standstill fight with one of these because its 12/14 for some reason and gets an extra Lifeleech for some reason and gets a shed load of attacks, like a budget vampire really. They’re a 4-5 without Honeymaze because pretty much all on foot melee characters are really. Fly 20+d3 is great threat though.

The wealth of other character choices tend to crow these out.


Vampire on Undead Pegasus

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Luis – 9/10
He is a baby dragon type of unit, and I love baby dragons on third edition. Amazing mobility, small footprint and both good offence and defence. Lifeleech 2 is also very good and height 4 means that not many units (or hills) can block his line of sight.

He is an autonomous flank harasser. His value is not only the units he can kill, but the way your opponent has to change his battleplan in order to deal with him. He comes with spell options which I don’t consider, except for Lightning Bolt. Give him Lightning Bolt and the Boomstick and you will have the Undead version of Bael. Also, it is a good spell to use the first turns as you position properly. My favourite objects for him are Staying Stone, Hann’s Sanguinary or Mead of Madness.

Mike – 8/10
I like the Vamp on Peg for a fast flanking threat.  He’s pretty comparable to other ‘baby dragon’ units like the Beast of Nature, and he Inspires.

Photo credit: Dan Zarembski

Tom – 8/10
Budget dragons! At pretty much the price bracket of a Beast of Nature these lose Pathfinder and Vicious but gain Lifeleech and Inspiring. You’ve got to kind of ask why because this guy is clearly better overall. We all know the power of the Beast of Nature and what it brings to a board, this guy does it better since you don’t have to worry about that spiky roll to kill him alongside the Lifeleech keeping him in the game longer term and making up for the drop in nerve.

Photo credit: Keegan Cross

Lykanis

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Luis – 7/10
The werewolf hero. He is incredibly fast, resilient and has decent attack power for a hero. He is perfect to go with your Werewolves as he Inspires them and can keep the pace.

Lykanis mobility makes him a great flank harasser and he is a great tool for its points. I really wish he was height 4, so your enemy couldn’t easily block his LOS.

My favourite items for him are Blade of Slashing or Mace of Crushing to minimize the chance of doing 0 dmg on hindered charges, or the Pathfinder item to get full use of his speed.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Mike – 6/10
 I think I would like Lykanis more if I wanted to play a Werewolf list.  He’s not bad as a fast flanking threat, but if I wanted that role in my list I’d find the points to get a Vamp on Peg instead.

Pat – 6/10
Great, shift large infantry character. He’s a bit pricey but can be well worth it if you can use him correctly. Best is to dance around the battlefield until you force the enemy to choose between him in the flank, or a more dangerous unit in the flank. He require patience to be truly effective. 

Tom – 7/10
The only competitive meta unit archetype Undead don’t get access to is that 110-130pt large inf/cav budget monster, the Depth Horror Eternal, Butcher Fleshripper etc. This as close as you get and yeah it’s good, it pairs well with a horde of Werewolves and is a good unit for threatening flanks and tagging on to combats. I just think it’s not cheap enough or you go up a points bracket for the Peg. Actually for my play style I like the Undead character support choices over these because they’re so important to my kind of play style so yeah all the ingredients are there but I think it’s  a bit in limbo when competing in the Undead roster but can definitely find a place in the right list.


Vampire Lord

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Luis – 9/10
As Mike Adkins would say he is “Mr. Fix-it”. Vampire lord is a terrific combat hero. He can practically do anything (except scoring). He is a great: support for your hammers, a terror for enemy’s individuals (either hunting them or keeping them away from him), blocker, chaff dealer…Anything you need him to do, he does well.

He has good attack and defence stats, damage recovery (thanks to Lifeleech 2), great threat range and a 360º radius. You almost always you want him on a horse, but I also like him on foot as a defender. Put one near your Balefires, Lich Kings or Necromancer, and enemy hero hunters will think twice before going near them.

He is perfectly fine without items, but he is pretty cool with many 5-10 points items like: Pipes of Terror, the +1 Lifeleech item, Slashing, Crushing… He is also very good if you give him the scout item or the Wings of the Honeymaze. As the Vampire on Pegasus, I really don’t care about spell options except maybe sometimes Lightning Bolt to give him something to do during the early game.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Mike – 8/10
 I’m a fan of every list having a ‘Mr. Fix-it’ unit, and for me, in the Undead list, that’s the Vampire Lord on horse.  He’s expensive, but provides so much utility for the cost.  When your opponent presents you with a problem and you just need a unit to throw at it, the Vampire Lord on horse is your guy.  He’s an Individual, so he makes for great defence against fliers.  He’s a Duellist, so he can easily take out enemy Individuals.  He’s got 7 attacks at CS 2, so he’s great to throw into any iffy combat to tip the scales in your favour / clear chaff / disorder and hold up a unit / etc.  I’ve never taken one on foot, and if I wanted to I’d just find the points to put him on a horse.

Pat – 7/10
The big baddie of the individual world, he does pay for that title. Great utility character that can survive most unit’s first punch. Without an item to increase his consistency though he only deals ~3 wounds against defence 5 targets. Duellist of course doubles that vs individuals so that’s where he really shines.

Lightning Bolt or Surge are OK spell options if you don’t have another character to carry those spells. Drain Life is a bit pointless as you’d rather he be fighting. 

Tom – 7/10
So thanks to Duellist and a nerf for Basusu, these are actually the foremost character killers in the game. Their price reflects that but honestly I’d prefer one of these on horseback to Basusu any day of the week. You can struggle to find a place sometimes since they lack Unit Strength where the Peg version compensates or because you’d rather get another hammer unit since mounted vamps clock in at 200pts. All that said you can always find a place for them and they sit right in the area where most fliers aren’t going to one shot them and the vamp in return can really leave a mark in return while Lifeleech 2 gets to work or sometimes even better you surge some Wraiths into the fliers flank and the Vamp wanders off to go murder something else.


Vampire Lord on Undead Dragon

Photo credit: Keegan Cross

Luis – 7/10
Good but pricy. He is a good hero on dragon, but as I see it on 3rd edition but I think titans are a little bit overpriced in 3rd and I tend to use more baby dragons as the vampire on Pegasus. Anything I said about the Pegasus version can be applied here except he hits harder, grinds better, but he can’t fit in narrow places as good as the Pegasus version. Also, height 6 makes really hard for him to find cover

Still, he is a scary unit. The Lifeleech 2 is gold on him as he can be many turns in combat if used properly. Lightning bolt 4 for 15 points is a bargain. I like to give him some health recovery/ waver mitigation items, and he is one of the only units I consider giving him blood of the old king, thanks to his Lifeleech ability.

Mike – 5/10
It’s funny.  You put a Vampire on a horse, it’s great.  You put a Vampire on a Pegasus, it’s great.  You put a Vampire on a Dragon, and…. meh.  It’s 5 points more expensive than the Basilean High Paladin on Dragon, who has Headstrong, Iron Resolve, and a slightly better breath weapon.  There are lots of units in the Undead list than are more expensive than similar units in other lists, but you feel ok about it because they are clearly better.   The Vamp on Dragon doesn’t outshine any other dragons, and there are so many superlative choices in the Undead list that I’ve never really given it serious consideration.

Pat – 6/10
Very expensive dragon type, I always feel nervous taking something this pricey without a waver mitigation item. However Blood of the Old Kings is a great substitute if you like the high-risk high-reward playstyle as his Lifeleech will trigger after the item’s damage, healing himself instantly. Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture is also great to increase his Lifeleech to 3.

Her biggest issue is a Brew of Sharpness Revenant King on Flying Wyrm comes in at either 15 points cheaper without the breath attack, or same cost with the breath attack. Thanks to the latest Clash of Kings there’s at least a nerve difference of -/18 vs 17/19 now. 

Tom – 7/10
It’s a dragon, it’s expensive and does dragony things. I don’t think there’s a dragon variant in the game that’s sub 7/10. Lifeleech 2 is great, if you run Blood of the Old King this unit is the only unit in the game where that is not a trap thanks to that. But at that point I’d rather buy a Wight horde AND a Necro – so while it’s never a bad choice you can build stronger Undead builds without the point sink and risk that such a valuable piece presents.


Revenant King

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Luis – 8/10
One of your cheap (not the cheapest) inspiring and surge sources. He is a very cheap combat/inspiring hero who can fit perfect in almost every list.

He is resilient, but he is not Mighty and his combat abilities are mediocre, so you can’t fully rely on him to ground an enemy unit as he will do 0 dmg more often than you think. I almost always give him the Slashing/Crushing items to minimize the chances of 0 damaging, but I also like him with the Lute.

Prefer him mounted but he is also good on foot if going in a shambling line. Always take the surge upgrade, ALWAYS.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Mike – 6/10
The Revenant King is like the ‘Jack of All Trades’ basic hero choice, and he’s definitely not a master of any of them.  If you want a hero to disorder something, the Ghoul Gast is much more reliable for only a few more points.  If want an Inspiring source or a Surge caster, you can get one for less.  I think he can provide utility in some lists if you put him on a horse, but he’s definitely not a go-to choice.

Pat – 6/10
With as much nerve as a troop of revenant cavalry, he’s a great utility character. His low number of attacks does make him risky as a chaff piece, you can still use him as a risky blocker in tighter quarters as long as you block the landing zone of the enemy unit and rely on his high defence and nerve to hold for a turn. Give him surge to be a good all-rounder. Blade of Slashing or Mace of Crushing increases the odds of that critical 1 wound to disorder the enemy.

Tom – 8/10
Another super cheap Inspiring character, cheap Surge access, competent in combat to disorder. BUT more than that, it’s -/14! Everyone else are getting equivalent characters with one or usually two less nerve than this guy and he’s not stuck with conditional Inspiring. 105 points for all that is class. People often say he’s a good chaff choice being the same nerve as the cav troop variant but I think his combat ability is lacking for that, however this guy is easy to justify because he does a lot more than a rev cav troop in other ways able to support the faster units that your casters have surged forward. It’s a safe and cheap choice that you’ll rarely regret taking.


Revenant on Undead Great Burrowing Wyrm

Photo credit: Ray Weiandt

Luis – 2/10
This guy is the worst, never taken him never, never will (as he is now). Compared to the flying wyrm version, he is -3 speed, not Inspiring, not Fly nor Nimble, not able to surge, but he gains 2 attacks, Brutal and Strider. On the paper doesn’t seems a bad change for 45 points save, but it is the speed 10 Fly and Nimble what gives a sense to the flying wyrm, its mobility.

The Burrowing Wyrm is not very punchy and it is not much resilient as many undead units. For example, if you took a Zombie Troll horde, it will be cheaper, will have similar defence offence stats and don’t take a precious hero slot. Anything you think this guy can do, another unit can do better for the same or less points.

Mike – 4/10
I’ve never really given this guy serious consideration.  He just doesn’t seem like a good fit for any role.  He’s not really fast enough to be a flanking threat, you can’t Surge him, he’s too expensive to be expendable or use to clear chaff, and he only hits on 4s so you can’t rely on him as a combat unit. If you want a mobile anvil, find the points to take the Flying Wyrm.  

Pat – 5/10
He’s solid, but feels underwhelming for his points cost. Inspiring Talisman seems OK if you’re short on inspiring, but that doesn’t help him feel like he’s lacking something. Brew of Sharpness is expensive, but does at least take advantage of his high attacks and Strider.

He’s not a bad Titan, but for his cost I think there are better options.

Tom – 6/10
I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s only there as there needs to be a profile for the model. That said, 12 att, CS3, strider, brutal, 220pts . . . pretty damn tanky and as reliable as you can expect at Me4. I reckon you’d splash out for Wights, Soul Reavers etc or take the utility of the Vamp on Peg. All that said though it’s better than I thought it was at first glance.


Revenant King on Undead Great Flying Wyrm

Photo credit: David Musgrave

Luis – 7/10
A very fast mobile anvil with regular 4-5 dmg output in combat. He used to be very very good but took quite a big nerf on the last CoK update.

He is a dragon type of titan with worse combat skills. I usually use him as mobile anvil, support some combats or threat the enemy in the flanks. He is a good partner for werewolves or soul reavers due to its speed.

I don’t usually buy the upgrades as he is expensive enough. As for items I like him with, Hann’s Sanguinary because if you position properly, he will get often several rounds of combats, I also like Healing Brew or Mace of Crushing. 

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Mike – 7/10
It’s best to think of him as a flying anvil instead of a dragon.  He’s pretty good in that role, and can project a decent amount of threat.

Pat – 8/10
Even with the price increase and Nerve decrease, this unit can be a proper pain in the ass for the opponent. He’s a cheap heavy flyer that can be upgraded to a fearless budget dragon with Brew of Sharpness (and Plagued breath if you really want the dragon feel).

Tom – 8/10
Remember banging Sharpness on these and still being 30+ points cheaper than dragons while also being as good or better? Yeah, well you got a deserved price hike, so you can still do that and this bugger is still better than an Abyssal Archfiend. They’ve shaved the nerve down so it’s no longer better than the vampire version but still, these are nails. I exploited all hell out of the two versions of these in 2nd ed because they were both 30+ points undercosted. I reckon they’re still a tad cheap but it’s the closest they’ve been to balanced since the start of 2nd ed. It’s another dragony thing you know the drill.


Liche King

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Luis – 5/10
The Liche king is an Inspiring elite sorcerer, with access to many spells, but to be honest he is too pricy for me. I know many generals use him very good. But as I see him, he will cost 200 points if you want to give him a spell different to Surge or Heal.

He has very good defence stats, but spellcasters tend to stay out of trouble and he is not mighty and he is not able to block charges from the enemy. If he was mighty, I will consider paying that price for a non-combat support unit. He may be good, but I usually prefer the cheap necromancers as spellcasters.

That said you can pick one or two, Mhorgoth and several Necromancers to get some nasty Drain Life critical dice mass. If you are one of those….hahahaha. And he one of the only sources of Lightning Bolt (or Blizzard) in the army.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Mike – 5/10
I feel like the Liche King is over-built.   He’s a lot of points for a lot of stuff that you don’t really need.  I mean, it’s cool that he’s Fearless , Defence 5, and has 5+ Regen.  But, if you’re playing Undead, you’re better off learning how to protect your support Heroes than paying for them to be able to take a punch.  Surge 10 is, also, pretty cool.  But if you are playing it safe and only attempting 1 or 2 inch Surges, then you are paying a lot of points for dice you don’t need.  It’s also cool that he’s got a lot of spell options and you can make him deal some damage or heal or both.  But by the time you commit more points to an already expensive Hero, you might as well take Mhorgoth.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Pat – 8/10
Surge 10 or Heal 6 are great base spells to have. He is very pricey both due to those spells and his amazing statline. His other optional spells are all very pricey, but also very good as well. You can kit him out in a number of different ways, I prefer Lightning Bolt or Blizzard personally, as If I’m going for Bane Chant or Drain Life I prefer the more utilitarian Necromancer. 

Tom – 8/10
Probably the best non-Living Legend caster in the game. Stock with Fly, Fearless, Regen, Inspire and Surge 10 with probably the best spell selection in the game. Yeah they’re costly but when they’re so hard that most combat characters can’t defeat the nerve + Regen they tend to get ignored. Issue then is that they’re so reliable at what they do. I usually run two or one with Mhorgoth and one of those has Boots of Levitation just to give it the 14” threat of movement. Yeah, it’s pricey but forcing your opponent to be scared of the ability to create surge flanks, stack Drain Lifes nearly anywhere on the board is invaluable. Even when they do play conservatively in response I lose count of the times I’ve found something somewhere that my opponent hasn’t and suddenly a “safe” unit is about to get flank charged and murdered.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Necromancer

Photo credit: Andrew Hawley

Luis – 9/10
They give sense to the Undead army thematically, a bunch of minions who need these little wizards to keep them up and running.  I always chuck 2 or 3 of these into my lists. Necromancers are very good, because they are cheap. They are the cheapest source of Inspire and Surge (if you give them the Inspiring Talisman), and they can have 2 or 3 spell and stay below the 100 points level. They are cheap, versatile and a great support to your shambling line.

They have access to many spells, I like having one or two spells to use when units are in combat (Surge, Banechant or Drain Life) and one for early game (Heal or Weakness). The aura is mandatory if using Zombie Trolls (or Goreblight). 

Photo credit: Luis Serra

I almost never swap the Surge for Heal, except if they are going with non-shambling units like Soulreavers or I am desperate for points. You can make such good combinations like Surge/Weakness for 65 points, Heal/Banechant for 70….

 I prefer them on foot, but they are also good mounted if they are supporting fast units or you want them to Drain Life.

As for items they are number one suspect to be given the Inspiring Talisman, Conjurer Staff is another good choice as it pairs brilliantly with Bane Chant or Weakness, with Shroud of the Saint they can become a very cheap dedicated Healer, Piercing Arrow is also very good if you give them Drain Life.

They are also not as weak as they seem, as 10/12 nerve is not so easy to rout in one go for light shooting or low attack units.

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Mike – 8/10
50 points for Surge 6.  Out of the box, he doesn’t do anything else but you aren’t paying for anything else either.  If you want him mobile, a horse is only another 25 points.  If you add the Inspiring Talisman and Bane Chant, Weakness, or Heal; you get a great support caster that’s still cheaper than a basic Liche King.  The Vicious Aura is a good buy as well if you are taking more than 1 unit with the Zombie keyword.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Pat – 9/10
Every list can use a Necromancer. With either Surge (6) or Heal (3) and a choice of Drain Life, Bane Chant, or Weakness he’s the ultimate support caster. Even fully kitted out with 2 spells and a horse he’s usually under 100 points which is amazing. His Aura for Zombies can make a great little battle group and turns pumps Zombie Trolls and Goreblights into killing machines.

Item wise Conjurer’s Staff or Inspiring Talisman are the go-to’s depending on how many other sources of Inspiring you have. Sacred Horn is also a contender if you’re taking the Aura. Running him with just Shroud of the Saint or Tome of Darkness is a great way to get elite Heal/Surge in a budget package. 

Photo credit: David Musgrave

Tom – 8/10
So look at the Druid/Gladewalker Druid then the Necro/Liche King. FoN don’t quite get what they want, Undead get exactly what they want (That’s a bit of an understatement! – Elliot). Surge 6 is spot on, Bane Chant, Inspiring Talisman, bosh, off you go. The Cicious aura is likewise great when you build into it which I have done before to great effect. I’ve said it about 8 times this article but the support characters are perfect in Undead. FoN want another 2 Heal for each caster base or to drop the Heal entirely for a cheaper base buy. Not a problem here though, they pair so well with a Liche King when you have a 1-2” Surge and don’t want to go overkill and waste a Liche, freeing them for the big game plays.


Cursed Pharaoh

Luis – 8/10 (7/10, or 9/10 with the Wings – averaged to 8/10)
The Pharaoh is another great hero in the rooster. He is a Surge and Inspiring source with good combat stats for a hero and a ridiculous anvil with his def6, Regen 5 and Lifeleech, insane. He is slow though.

And if you give him the Wings of the Honeymaze his speed skyrockets and he becomes “Mr. fix-it” vampire-style, and can do so many different things. This is the way I like him better.

Mike – 5/10
A Flying Pharaoh used to be a common choice in 2nd edition.  He made a great flying anvil/roadblock.  But now that the Wings reduce your Defence by 1, it’s just not as attractive an option. So now the Pharaoh struggles to find a role that he fits better than any of the other choices in the list.

(I wonder if we should tell Mike that the Pharaoh went back up to Def6 in V3, effectively making the Pharaoh to only unit in the game not care about the wings Defence hit? Because of course Undead couldn’t have the Wings of the Honeymaze effecting their poor little Pharaohs – Elliot). 

Pat – 7/10
While not Fearless like his Empire of Dust counterpart, he’s still a great character. If you’re playing with a lot of sp5-6 shamblers he’s a fine anchor on foot that can case surge or charge in as needed. With Wings he’s still solid as ever as he can get into and out of trouble at will.

Tom – 8/10
(With wings obviously) used to be the most broken character in the game and a mandatory selection. Now it’s a solid pick, infuriating at times and hardier than it has any rights to be. I think they have scope on foot tbh unlike pretty much every other infantry character in the game but Def6, 14/16, Regen and Lifeleech is nails on top of a competent offensive stat line. 


Undead Army Standard Bearer

Photo credit: Rusty Shackleford

Luis – 6/10
Cheap Inspiring source as in any other army. It is very good supporting non-shambling units as he isn’t shambling and can move at the double now in 3rd edition.

With the Tome of Darkness, he is a very cheap Inspiring/Surge source, but not as versatile as the Necromancer. And he is also very good with the Lute of Insatiable Darkness as any other ASB in the game.

The mounted version goes well with Werewolves or Soul Reaver cavalry as well.

Photo credit: Andrew Hawley

Mike – 6/10
Your basic flag guy at a fair price.  I don’t think I’ve ever taken one because it’s easy enough to put the Inspiring Talisman on a Necromancer, and all the other Heroes already Inspire.  But if you really need another Inspiring source or Lute carrier for cheap, then he’s a good choice.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Pat – 4/10
A standard bearer. But fearless. He’s OK but since so many characters already have Inspiring he’s a bit superfluous. Not quite like nipples on a breastplate, but close.

Tom – 7/10
So every other standard bearer is a 6 right? Well this one’s Fearless so give it an extra point and call it a day. Lute/Tomb of Darkness and move on.


Mhorgoth the Faceless

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Luis – 8/10
He is as good as an elite sorcerer can be. He has great spells, great defence, and awesome mobility. He is also Very Inspiring and Dread source.

He is the ultimate Drain Life caster. The bad thing is that he is very very expensive and he is not able to block charges. Still a solid choice.

Photo credit: Zae Agethor

Mike – 7/10
Pre-nerf, I would have called him a 10.  He’s still solid, but he’s far from the auto-include he was at the beginning of 3rd edition.  His biggest strength before was his speed.  You could get him anywhere you needed him, and then easily get him out of danger.  Now, Speed 7 seems pretty fast, but any mounted Hero can catch him, so you just can’t be as aggressive with him any more.

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Pat – 9/10
Still a great source of a ton of great spells in a very mobile package. Dread is a great rule to have an especially combines well with Cloak of Death from Goreblights, and Drain Life.

Tom – 8/10
 So after another righteous nerf to what was the most powerful individual in the game it now sits at just a very expensive but super utilitarian caster. (It was so broken it was the first time KoW amended the points cost of a unit in an FAQ/Errata) I like the Liche King with Boots, this guy for a minor points bump is still throwing out more betterer spells, Dread, Very Inspiring and 2 more nerve. The Liche King is occasionally going to find a turn with nothing to do, Mhorgoth is always doing something and that multiplies when Very Inspire/Dread get thrown in the mix. Imagine him in a Zombie Troll list with Vicious aura and a Goreblight throwing Cloak of Death out, congrats, Zombie Trolls are now as effective as Enslaved Guardians but also there’s Drain Life, 16 surge, Bane Chants . . . you know, whatever is the perfect choice at that moment in time, just Undead things.


Lady Illona

Photo credit: Luis Serra

Luis – 5/10
So good, so expensive. She is a vampire on steroids but she comes at 280 points. Compared to a vampire on foot she has +1 speed, +1CS, +1 attack and def6 instead of 5.

She may be good but she is too expensive for me as a non-scoring unit. The problem is that she comes with a lot of spells I don’t care about and I always think that I could field 2 vampires on foot for some extra points instead.

Photo credit: Mike Adkins

Mike – 6/10
I liked using her at the end of 2nd edition with the Thirstful Coven formation.  Looking at her now, she just seems too expensive.  I feel like I’m overpaying for a slightly slower, slightly harder hitting Vamp on horse with a bunch of spells that she’s probably never going to cast.

Pat – 5/10
She’s got an amazing set of rules that lends itself especially well to hunting down dragons. The problem is she costs about as much as a dragon. I do think you can build a competitive list with her in it, but she has to be designed around due to her cost.

Tom – 6/10
THE best combat character in the game, oh boy do you pay for it. You’ve seen the stat line and the plethora of meh spells. BUT, the defence is horrific, the offence ludicrous, the special rules are vindictive, the cost exorbitant. I can’t justify the cost to be honest it’s too much, she’s dragon points but not as fast, not quite as killy and not scoring. She’ll be terrifying if you go for her though, I mean you’re playing Undead so you’re 100 points up on everyone else anyway so when you think about it, she’s bought at a discount.


Jarvis

Luis – 8.5/10
Everyone loves the Jarvis, end of story.

Jarvis is a great necromancer. He is quite more expensive but he comes with handy upgrades. As a spell caster he is a swiss army knife with a spell for every situation, Very Inspiring is great as well as the extra 6” range for spells (oooh surge 18”). He is also a great Surge/Inspiring source if you have taken already a Necro with the Inspiring Talisman. Besides you become good and good always wins (and you can ally drakon riders, how fun).

Pat – 8/10
The extra 6” to his spells comes in handy quite often, especially since he’s on foot. He’s got a good selection of spells that’s at the Spellcaster (1) level except that his Surge is fantastic at 8. Very Inspiring means you can skip out on one source of Inspiring as long as you group your units near him.

His biggest boon is he changes the way you build your army. He’s practically meant to be taken with Good allies thanks to his Noble Dead ability. Undead do have a good mix of units already though. If you’re focusing on competition rather than fluff for your allies then Dwarfs, Elves, or Basileans are probably the best bet. Focusing on shooting, or cheaper, non-shambling speed.


Zuinok Iceblood

Luis – 5/10
A very expensive Inspiring/Surge hero, he comes with Fireball too, which you will just occasionally use.

He was designed to boost Skeleton infantry and see more Skeletons on the battlefields. But the fact is that the aura boosts Skeleton melee, and you just don’t care about Skeleton melee. He can become a good choice if you want to build a block with 2 Revenant hordes. Other than that, there are just better heroes to choose.

Mike – 3/10
Who? Isn’t he an Empire of Dust character?

Pat – 2/10
He doesn’t really do anything you want him to do that can’t be done more efficiently in other ways. He’s got decent surge, but two Necromancers have better Surge for cheaper. He can buff Skeleton Infantry with Elite which is meh. Since his Elite in only Melee he doesn’t get elite spells so his Fireball feels like a let down (speaking as a Salamanders player).

Bane Chant would obviously be a great addition but also feels like the boring answer. Now that Revenant Cavalry have been adjusted to closer to their true value I think you could drop the Infantry caveat for his aura. But I’d prefer if it was Aura (Elite – Skeleton Infantry only) so that he could benefit from the elite on his Surge and Fireball and also buff Skeleton Archers as well.

Tom – 6/10
Good character, a solid effort to introduce a character to buff the skeleton contingent which doesn’t get to sit at the apex of cost efficiency that the wetter Zombies or harder Revenants do. I think he helps Revenants too tbh as if they need it. He’s pretty meh but you can build him in to make those lists better. If he had made all skeleton infantry Me4 or something I’d be impressed, as is he’s ok and works for a two Revenant horde list. So his contribution is good and it’s a cool character but as is the way with Undead there’s always something better available.


Elliot’s Beer Fund

If you’ve enjoyed the blog and you’re feeling generous, you can buy me a pint. Please dont feel any obligation to do so, I’ve started this blog because it’s fun, not to make any money. Any money received will go towards hosting costs. Or my beer fund… ok mainly my beer fund.

£3.00


Summary

Overall average ratings /10: 6.9/10

Most agreed upon unit(s): Soul Reaver Cavalry, Wights (all reviewers scored the same).

Least agreed upon unit(s): Skeleton Warriors, Revenant on Undead Burrowing Wyrm, Zuinok Iceblood (4 points of difference between highest and lowest scores).

3 thoughts on “Army Review: Undead”

  1. Any chance of a glossary of KoW gatekeeping jargon? Or else discourage it in people’s reviews. I know what ‘Thicc Chaff’ is, but a beginner isn’t going to. Some people on their batreps refer to ‘Shockblight’ which sounds like a unit name but it isn’t and needs knowledge of a previous edition to understand. KoW already has a cliquey image, this doesn’t help in my opinion. Otherwise great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah its a fair comment and when I’m editing the reviews in future I’ll try and include a bit of a definition of possibly confusing terms. Its a balancing act between keeping the reviews to the point (they’re already very long) and being new player friendly. Shorthand like thicc chaff can be helpful in explaining a who class of unit very quickly, but I agree some explanation the first time the phrase comes up would be helpful.

      Like

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