Skeleton legions, how to make them viable?

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  • Exactly, you'll have more skeletons. But in this army, spam isn't actually a good plan. Sure, spamming skeletons is easy, but it's just not all that good of a plan (though it's fun as heck), but this army doesn't actually WANT a lot of units that require upkeep, since we can't do that without Aura heals. Vampires can bring as many units as they want and they'll still be able to give them some love due to those auras.

    And the skeletons in this army don't really want to come alone either, you'll probably want to bring some support characters in them...Like Nomarchs! So a 700p skeleton unit doesn't actually cost 700p. It costs 840p at minimum. It all adds up. You can't bring that many support units either, if I remember right, the Synergy Engine lists of 8th Edition often featured two big skeleton bricks and Princes in them, because that was a good number to fit into Core.

    And because we have other good choices in core, on top of the skeletons you can bring, you'd ideally want some chaff and a mage bunker at the least, and you'd ideally want those to fit into that 1125p limit, going over often means losing tools elsewhere in the army, though our Core in general is surprisingly good so going over by some isn't a really bad deal.

    So even if skeletons were a bit better, we'd still have difficulties fitting a meaningful amount of them into lists. Numbers and synergies - That's where the power of UD lies.
    Life is hard when you're a skeleton
  • But this lead to having, for the same price, bigger unit of skeletons in the army. Wich tends to go to an horde feeling: a mass of cheap wounds surrounded by elite troops.

    That's more a VC concept imho, while looking to our skeletons i would like more to have an higher quality (still weak, but not the weakest) by adding some durability feature that actually reflect their nowadays price.
    Alessandro Bartoloni - Italy
    Dynasties for the Undying Dynasties!!
  • Yes, but UD still has a very firm cap on how many big units they can bring to the table - As many as they can focus on. I think this number is 2 or 3.

    I have a fairly firm belief that making skeletons better won't bring them to the table, because any buff that can be given to them isn't actually meaningful. +1 Armor, +1 WS, crumble reductions for friendly units, what have you...Do these actually compare to the sheer greatness of Chariots? Trying to make them compete with Chariots as a combat-capable unit is an arms race that skeletons have a hard time winning.

    The only value of skeleton warriors is that there's many of them, and as they say, quantity is a quality of its own.

    Plus, there's the very practical thing that we don't deal with prices. If any of the aforementioned buffs would come with a price hike of even +1ppm, then it wouldn't be a buff at all but would make things even worse.

    I would only consider giving them a buff if they'd been given a price drop beforehand, otherwise it's just too risky.
    Life is hard when you're a skeleton
  • I too think one of the biggest dissapointments I had was when our skeletons where homogenized with VC skeletons. While losing 2 points of Leadership has no real impact 99% of the time, it does make them feel far less capable than they are (were?) supposed to be.

    My preferred solution would be.
    1) Add "Phalanx formation" as a rule: models with shield and weapon add +1 Arm in close combat when there is no unit in their flank or rear"
    2) Skeletons get +2 leadership and Phalanx formation.
    3) Reduce ppm to 8ppm.
    4) Add this banner "Ultimate sacrifice: You may reducethe number of Health Points lost from unstable by a single friendly unit in the same fight as the bearer’s unit. The bearer’s unit loses the lost health points instead (with no additional reduction)."

    1) would make hand weapon and shield equivalent to spear and shield. Currently there is little to no incentive to use shield and weapon, which is pretty sad considering how many models with shield and sword we have (skeletons and NG).
    Just parry doesn't seem to be enough, which is why I find "Phalanx formation" kind of nnecesary on an army that light armor is the best you will find. It would also help them crumble a little less.
    1) and 2) gives a strong sense of martial discipline that our skeletons sorely miss.
    3) would make bigger units actually competitive in price.
    4) would finally allow Hammer and Anvil tactic in our army.

    While 3) is the most important change (you can always just use spears), I think the other aspect would definitly add more flavor to the skeletal legion concept.
  • I'm with @Palmu on this one. I look at the skeleton entry and think: It would be really useful to have a big unit of this in the list. But when you start adding up points you realize that you sacrifice so much else from the list to fit them in that it isn't worth it. I've played a block of 50 with hw/sh + legion banner before and in all honesty they did really well, even without support. But did they do as well as the equivalent amount of points in other stuff? Probably not. It would be nice for the point range to be more in the utility/support range than in the full on combat block range. If my skeleton unit + support costs as much as my Shabtis, well then they will need to make as big an impact on the battle, which they simply won't do. Them being cheap probably wont result in me taking 2 units rather than 1, but more likely that I switch some chariots out for some skeletons.
  • Cheaper skeletons sounds to me a VC thing, not an UD one.

    Better skeletons sounds more like an UD feature, that's the point. Both gamewise and fluffwise we should strive for the best solution, and honestly i don't think a price reduction goes that direction.

    We should focus more on the role of the skeletons and find something that would make you prefer them to chariots in certain situations.
    Anvil role is what we lack, due to crumble wich makes helping the poor skellies a total suicide for our elite hitters. Why not focusing on resolving that and keeping the price?

    As everything, once you spend some time Deep thinking solution will come.
    Alessandro Bartoloni - Italy
    Dynasties for the Undying Dynasties!!
  • I think the idea of reducing crumble on other units is not going to go over well. We already have tons off good options in the book. We already don't break.

    If you had a normal anvil unit that gave up a lot of combat res, but was stead fast and counter charged with a hammer unit, if the hammer unit didn't do enough damage, the hammer would break too. Ours just dies instead. Crumbling wounds onto skeletons would be expensive if costed appropriately.

    Skeletons would work if they just went down in price.

    When we make small tweaks and points adjustments instead of going crazy, the units wont have to be fixed again hopefully.

    Take Tomb Cataphracts and Scarab Swarms. One they went crazy one, one got a minor weapon swap and a points reduction. One became a great, well balanced entry. Little things go a long way. Not changing crumbling mechanics.
  • I'm being pragmatic, because experience has shown me, after repeated failures, that I can't just expect things to get better by changing them. No buff in this game is actually a buff if it comes with a price increase that makes the unit prohibitive to play in the role they have. Skeletons currently have two: Tarpit and combat unit, when you include a character in it. These are compatible roles, since tarpits don't pay much for anything, because they're quite useless by themselves, and the price for boosting them is included in the characters, so that when you include the character, both the points spent on the skeletons and the character would ideally be worth it.

    Changing their role from tarpit to anvil, for example, would make them incompatible with their second role - An anvil pays for its ability to hold on despite losing, and when you include a character, those points become wasted points because the unit is no longer supposed to constantly lose. Thus, we reduce their role to a single one: Anvil.

    And when that happens, we hit another wall: Why pay points for an unit that's only going to lose, when you could pay points for an unit that's going to WIN? Namely - Chariots.

    If anything, we should focus on that secondary role and uplift them from their tarpitty role through rules that become better when characters are included - Like increased raising when joined by a character, or fight in extra ranks, or +1 Armor in close combat...But even then, only if we can be sure that their price still keeps them in the range of being plenty spammable.

    Personally, I'm pretty happy with the role separation of Chariots being the place where Pharaohs like to hang out, since combat characters need mobility, and Skeletons being the place where Nomarchs like to hang out since they're cheap and exist to buff things - The perfect character to place into Skeletons. A budget combat unit.
    Life is hard when you're a skeleton
  • I somewhat agree with Palmu, if I get your idea right.

    We do not need another "strong" combat block, we already have plenty of options: Chariots, Shabtis, necro guards...

    However, in terms of tarpits, skeletons are rather good. Not great and can be improved, but they somewhat still do the job.

    From my point of view, Banner of the Entombed was a great addition to make them usefull (hence why I brought 2 at ETC). However, it doesn't give you the "endless legion of skeleton warriors" feel. To achieve this, and use an old banner concept, how about:

    - removing book of the dead
    - create a new banner, core infantry only 0-X per army:
    At the start of your magic phase you may remove X veil tokens to cast Death is Only the Beginning on the standard's unit.

    -> it's reliable heal
    -> it diminishes the power of your magic phase: less boosts
    -> improves the tarpit role of Skeleton warriors

    In terms of fighting power, if you try to compete with the rest of the book, it's a losing battle, imho.

    As for the price, I personnaly do not find them expensive: 150 for 20 initial is cheap. 10 for additionnal is more expensive than a gobelin with similar stats? The goblin isn't ItP and cannot come back to life.
  • LegionChaeron wrote:

    ....
    - removing book of the dead
    - create a new banner, core infantry only 0-X per army:
    At the start of your magic phase you may remove X veil tokens to cast Death is Only the Beginning on the standard's unit.

    ...

    As for the price, I personnaly do not find them expensive: 150 for 20 initial is cheap. 10 for additionnal is more expensive than a gobelin with similar stats? The goblin isn't ItP and cannot come back to life.
    Thats a really cool concept tbh, would really like that.

    As to points, it is reasonable in that sense around small units, the problem is when you start to question how large you need it to be to tarpit effectively. I would argue that at least for hw/sh you need 40-50 dudes, where 40 is kind of risky. Then the price is suddenly 510 points with no banner enchanment. Thats 510 points that you are almost guaranteed to lose if you use it as a tarpit. The main benefit of non-undead tarpits is not the flee and rally. Its the flank charge with other stuff so the tarpit survives after combat round 1. If that unit was maybe 400-450 points it would be a lot more appealing.
  • Can't our big monster not get a sort of insignificant rule in regards to skeletons? For instance, subtract wounds lost from skeleton units in the same combat as a battle sphinx from their crumble value (or half them). Something along those lines would greatly improve the support that sphinxes or colossi can give.

    I also like what @Palmu said about skeletons getting FiER if joined by a character. Our disciplined skeletons should have some Empire-esque characteristics in my opinion. They should be better than VC's.
  • LegionChaeron wrote:

    As for the price, I personnaly do not find them expensive: 150 for 20 initial is cheap. 10 for additionnal is more expensive than a gobelin with similar stats? The goblin isn't ItP and cannot come back to life.
    Goblins are high rerollable LD that will stick around to fight another day. Skeletons crumble after first combat so enemy is free to do what they want.
  • Being warriors that raise from the sand or dust, I could see them have ghost step, like the tlan imass from Stephen ericsons makes an series, but that might be kinda op for a coreunit =^.^=

    Imo the UDskellies needs something desserty that makes them stand out from the VCskellies.
    What I'm not sure, but as they are now I only field them, because that's how I envision our armies.. vast legions of skellies.

    I really like the idea of them not causing crumble in other units, that would make them way better and more useable. However it might be a bit troublesome to calculate who wins etc.

    The idea of a skelly only banner that heals them is awesome, banner of the unyielding legions or something! <3
    That wich dosnt kill me better run...

    #makeVanquisherEternalGreatAgain
  • Midgaardsormen wrote:

    I really like the idea of them not causing crumble in other units, that would make them way better and more useable. However it might be a bit troublesome to calculate who wins etc.
    The trouble is that you are Right, they would get much better. imho this would effect external balance so it is unlikely to be approved.

    Midgaardsormen wrote:

    The idea of a skelly only banner that heals them is awesome, banner of the unyielding legions or something!
    An outright Raise Banner? The ability to use a banner and also Raise in Magic phase would be too powerful. Maybe as one use only or as a bound spell so does have a cost - power dice- otherwise I would hate to see pts cost of banner,
  • Kroxi_the wrote:

    I think a point drop would do it. I personally have run big units of skellies successfully. A unit of 50 with spears and a stubborn pharo seems too be the only way to go imo
    I agree, the only real problem imho is that a skellie block fully kitted out is too expensive for what you get.

    Reduce initial cost by 20 pts, additional model cost by 2pts but add the cost of a spear at 1pt per model.

    therefore
    20 sword shield nett 20 pts cheaper
    20 spears shield no change
    50 sword shield nett 80 pts cheaper
    50 spear shield nett 30 pts cheaper.

    The reason for the difference is too give a solid reason for using sword shield as an alternative to spears.

    Plus it is the sort of reduction that could be justified and have a realistic chance of being accepted.