I'm very late to the party on posting a Legions of Nagash review. My time these past few weeks has been occupied by a scenery commission (hence the lack of updates), and I haven't really been able to organize my thoughts about the book. By now everyone has probably seen most of what the book has to offer anyway, so I'll instead talk about my impressions and experiences with the new rules.
Legions of Nagash
One thing I'm really happy with is the fact that Legions has finally done away with the nonsensical segregation of the undead subfactions like Deathmages, Deathrattle, etc, and it can all be fielded as part of a singular army, with Flesh-eater Courts as allies. The book, however seems written to specifically exclude any Tomb Kings or Compendium warscrolls because the allegiance criteria requires that units are "in this battletome" rather than containing a certain keyword.
That excludes the aforementioned Tomb Kings, but also makes the allegiances dead-ends as far as expansion. If any new Death models are ever released, they will either not be viable with the Legions of Nagash, or they will need to have some kind of caveat that explicitly allows them to join the Legion allegiances.
Speaking of which, that means the only new model we've seen in over 3 years for the entire Death Grand Alliance, can't even be used as part of any of the Legion allegiances. The Knight of Shrouds is not in the battletome, so he cannot be included. However, the Malign Portents book has rules for including him– Models with the Harbinger keyword can be included as an ally in any allegiance with which they share the same Grand Alliance keyword. But the harbingers only gain the Harbinger keyword when using the Malign Portents rules. Confused? Basically in "normal" games, the Knight of Shrouds can only be included in armies with the generic Death allegiance, or the Nighthaunt Allegiance. Hopefully, GW will update the warscrolls with the Harbinger keyword after the Malign Portents campaign ends.
The warscrolls in the battletome have undergone a few changes. The most obvious change is using gravesites and heroes to regenerate fallen troops and having banners instead radiate a penalty to enemy units' Bravery. This initially caused a lot of consternation in the community but, in practice, units are be more resilient because the regeneration can be doubled up and targeted at the units that need it the most, can benefit units that previously could not regenerate (like Dire Wolves, Spirit Hosts, and Hexwraiths), and there are more ways to hamper the enemy's Bravery, making attacks like the Banshee's ghostly howl and Terrorgheist's death shriek much more effective.
The four Legions are all organized around their central character: Nagash has the Grand Host of Nagash; Arkhan the Black, the Legion of Sacrament; Neferata, the Legion of Blood; and Mannfed von Carstein, the Legion of Night. Any models and battalions in the battletome can be included in those allegiances. The army doesn't have to be led by the special character, but if they are included, they must be the general. You also can't have any mortarchs unless the "parent" mortarch is also included, which avoids situations like building a Legion of Sacrament army led by Neferata. Nagash may only be included in the Grand Host of Nagash.
I've always preferred my own characters and masses of troops over giant special characters (it's why I play Warhammer), so I'm fielding my own vampires, wight kings, and necromancers. The smaller characters aren't as survivable as the "big" characters, especially when enemy shooting comes into play. In my first game, my vampire was shot off the table on turn two by a host of Skyfires. Keeping characters alive is important especially since the army relies on them more than ever for spells and regenerating fallen troops (just like the old days). The Legion of Sacrament has two artifacts that protect against shooting, so that's where I've set my banner.
Each of the Legions has its own list of command traits and artifacts, and they allow Wizards to select an additional spell from two new spell lists, the Lore of the Deathmages and the Lore of the Vampires. They also have the following battle traits, which are identical for each legion: Deathless Minions, which allows wounds and mortal wounds to be negated on the roll of a 6+. The Unquite Dead, which allows the player to place four gravesites on the battlefield. The gravesites can regenerate wounds on Summonable units (a new keyword on the Deathrattle units, zombies, wolves, and spirits. Summonable units can also be deployed "in the grave" and brought into play near a gravesite. Endless Legions, a new Command Ability that allows a destroyed Summonable unit to be returned to play (if you have set aside reserve points to pay using the Matched Play rules.
In addition, each Legion has two unique battle traits:
Grand Host of Nagash: Morghasts gain +1 attack; Summonable units can restore D3 wounds anywhere on the battlefield (this is in addition to what the gravesites and heroes allow them to regenerate). Legion of Sacrament: Wizards have +1 to casting rolls; and there's another ability to return a destroyed unit to play. Legion of Blood: Units confer -1 Bravery to nearby enemy; Vampires and Blood Nights gain +1 attack. Legion of Night: Deathrattle units gain +1 to saves while in your own territory; up to three units can be deployed in reserve and can ambush by moving on from from any table edge.
The Legion of Sacrament
For now, I'll focus on the Legion of Sacrament, since that's what I've been using the most. The battle traits that allow destroyed unit s to be returned to play are kind of a waste because they require reserve points; you may as well have bought a second unit and used it for the entire game. +1 to cast is pretty useful, but it's the command traits and artifacts that caught my attention.
Sacrament Command Traits:
Peerless Commander: Allows the general to summon a unit "in the grave" while further away from a gravesite. In my games, I haven't had trouble getting my heroes close to my grave markers, so this trait isn't terribly useful, especially compared to some of the others. Emissary of the Master: Lets you re-roll failed charges for nearby units. That's solid, but units are already getting a minimum 6-inch charge from their hornblowers, there are better options. Bound to the Master: Allows the general to use Arkhan's command ability, extending the range of spells. This would be useful, but I feel like it might be better to take a Balewind Vortex for double the range, and be able to use one of the more offensive command abilities on a Vampire or Wight King. Dark Acolyte: Makes the general a Wizard, or grants them an additional spell if they are already a Wizard. Useful if you are going with a magic-focused list. Mastery of Death: Grants a bonus move to units in the hero phase. When combined with the Deathmarch battalion's bonus move, your Deathrattle units can be moving 7-inches in the hero phase! Mark of the Favoured: Each time the general is targeted by an attack in combat, the attacking unit suffers a mortal wound on a 6+. This one has already sparked contention online; It reads like every attack results in a roll, but some are arguing that the unit only selects targets once, so there's only one roll to deal a mortal wound. The trait would either be great for putting on a Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon and wading him into a large unit where the volume of attacks will result in the hero shrugging off most of the attacks while returning a lot of mortal wounds. Or the trait could be utterly useless. (The FAQ, of course, was no help.)
Spiritcage: Units gain +1 to wound for the rest of the turn if an enemy hero is slain nearby. This one seems very situational, without a long-lasting benefit. Asylumaticae: Once per game you can roll a dice. On a 1 the bearer takes a mortal wound. Otherwise each enemy unit within 12 inches suffers one mortal wound. Not very appealing. Black Gem: Once per game, you can pick a point within 8-inches and roll a dice for each unit within 3-inches of that spot. On a 6+ one model from the unit is slain. That's great for slaying an enemy character or monster, but there's only a 1-in-6 chance of pulling it off. The odds can be improved a bit if there are a few within range. Definitely more useful than the Asylumaticae. Azyrbane Standard: Within 6-inches, enemies subtract 1 from their wound rolls, and enemy Wizards must re-roll successful casting rolls. Not bad, but characters near the front lines don't tend to survive very long, so this is somewhat situational. Shroud of Darkness: Enemy shooting is -1 to hit within 8-inches of the model, or -2 if they are further away. This is exactly what Death heroes need, protection from shooting. An added benefit is that any shots that confer mortal wounds on a 6+ won't get that extra bonus. Wristbands of Black Gold: Wounds or mortal wounds from shooting can be negated on a 4+. This one is also really useful.
Legion of Sacrament Army List
So, all this leads me to the list I've put together:
Wight King with Black Axe– Mastery of Death Command Trait; Wristbands of Black Gold Artifact
Wight King with Black Axe– Shroud of Darkness Artifact
40 Skeleton Warriors with sword and shield
40 Skeleton Warriors with sword and shield (deployed in the grave)
10 Skeleton Warriors with sword and shield
20 Grave Guard with great blades (deployed in the grave)
5 Black Knights
Necromancer– Lore spell: Overwhelming Dread
2 Morghast Harbingers with spirit halberds
The strategy is to put enough bodies on the field to overwhelm more elite enemy units. The army has 159 wounds to grind through without counting the ones that will be healed by the gravesites and heroes. Large blocks of skeletons can dish out 3 attacks each (4 if the general uses his command ability). The Morghasts offer some serious rend for tough targets and a long range charge if I need it.
The Mastery of Death and Deathmarch Battalion provides a 7-inch move in the hero phase, which speeds up my normally slow skeletons, making the army more maneuverable.
The heroes should be able to weather most shooting– Both Wight Kings have artifacts to protect them, and the Necromancer has an ability to transfer wounds onto the nearby units of skeletons. The Banshees have a 4+ save that ignores rend. And since I've maxed out my Leader allotment, and they all have significant value, the enemy will have to make some choices about where to concentrate their fire.
The Banshees benefit from the Bravery debuffs that the army confers. The Necromancer's spell Overwhelming Dread makes the enemy suffer -1 to their hit rolls and -1 to their Bravery. Another advantage of the Legion spell lores is that when the casting roll is a 9+ (before modifiers) the effects of the spell can be resolved twice. So I can make two units -1 to hit and -1 Bravery, or one unit -2 to hit and -2 Bravery. Great for crippling elite enemy units!
The cumulative penalties from a banner, the Morghasts, and the spell can be -3 or -4, allowing the Banshees to target their ghostly howls and dish out a ton of mortal wounds! If this was a Legion of Blood list, I'd have a further -1, but then I wouldn't have the shooting protection or movement.
The Project Queue
I'm getting back to these skeletons after a few weeks of letting them languish. I hope to have them finished soon.
I've been marinating a conversion using the three gals from the Coven Throne, and with my "three-banshee" list, this might be the time to pull the trigger on the project.
I also have the Warscryre Citadel. I'm going to run a project log on how I convert and base the scenery.
For my Skull Forge Scenics terrain, I'm getting the ruined shrines back into the store, and I'm working on a ruined version of the other shrine as well.