The Darkoath Savagers warband are the classic barbarians ravaging the steppes infested by the Chaos forces. If you are interested in Conan look and feel (one of the miniatures is a clear take on Schwarzenegger’s iconic character), then this is the warband for you!
At the moment this warband is available only in the Red Harvest box set securing Varanite extraction sites against Tarantulos Brood minions, but it should be soon released separately.
Background and Lore of the Darkoath Savagers Warband
Where and how the Darkoath came to be is a mystery lost in time. All is known is that they are some of the most savage and brutal warriors fighting for the Chaos forces and that they take their name from the great oaths they swear to the Dark Gods or patrons.
Some of the most renown leaders of barbarians tribes are Darkoath Chieftains or Warqueens. Darkoath Savagers are fierce warriors always chasing another way to please the Chaos Gods but without swearing allegiance to any one of them in particular.
Their oaths are recorded by the tribal shamans and to not fulfil one is a severe crime punished with death or worse. If you want to keep reading you need to be prepared to swear to the Chaos Gods, and there’s no pulling out!
Fighters in the Darkoath Savagers Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
The Darkoath Savagers warband is made of 12 different options, of which 2 are leaders.
- Slaughterborn with Greatblade: 170 points
- Slaughterborn with Greataxe: 170 points
The Slaughterborn is the only leader option of this warband but he is a strong leader compared with other original Warcry leaders. With 20 Wounds and Toughness 4, he can survive a bit of heat but what pulls him down is the movement of 4″, that is just average and the same across the entire warband.
There are 2 weapon options to choose from: the Greatblade for more attacks (5 on Strength 4) or the Greataxe for more Strength (4 on Strength 6). They both do 2/5 damage per hit so they are good weapons for a leader. As always, statistically more attacks is often better, in particular considering the damage is the same. There are also only few models in Warcry with Toughness 5 where the Greataxe would beat the Greatblade.
The most important ability that all Darkoath Savagers share is A Vow Fulfilled. This is extremely powerful when used carefully and worth only a Double: it allows to permanently (for the rest of the battle) to increase the value of Toughness or Attack/Strength of a weapon profile by 1 for each enemy killed during that activation. So basically you can upgrade your units while fighting, making this ability extremely powerful.
Another generic ability common to the entire warband is Deathblow: for a Quad you can add the value of the ability to the hit value of the next melee attack action. You can’t really combine it with the previous one unless you waste a turn with a pause and hope the enemy does not retreat, but it can be useful to get rid of a powerful opponent. For example if you have a high Toughness scary guy, you could use the Slaughterborn with Greatblade a round to kill some low Wounds minions, increase Strength with A Vow Fulfilled and then face the enemy tank with 5 Attacks at Strength 5 and potential 8/11 damage per hit…
The other ability that only Slaughterborns can use is worth a Double and is called Display of Brutality. It allows to perform a bonus move or action after taking down an enemy, but it competes with A Vow Fulfilled. It may be worth in case you are surrounded, you have already buffed enough your leader, you forgot to activate the other one before taking down the enemy, or if you really need to prevent an enemy from running away and you are running out of actions…
God-speaker: 115 ponts
The God-speaker is a strong supporting character. He is the only one with a ranged profile (up to 7″) with 2 powerful attacks for 3/6 damage. In melee he is much less scary with 3 attacks at Strength 3 for 1/3 damage (one of the lowest in the warband) so you may want to avoid him to get too up close. 12 Wounds and Toughness 3 cement this idea.
However this idea clashes with Curse of Withering, his special abilities that for a Triple can permanently reduce the Toughness of an enemy by 1 for each 6 rolled or temporarily for each 4 or 5 (you roll as many dice as the value of the ability). The enemy needs to be within 3″, so the God-speaker would need to get up close and his ranged attack can be used only if an enemy is at least 3″ away.
While this ability could be interesting, we have already established that you have ways to increase your Strength to match enemies with high Toughness and you also have probably one of the strongest abilities in the game available to the God-speaker: Visions of Glory. This ability allows you to generate as many wild dice you want: roll as many dice as the value of the ability and for each 5 or 6 you generate a wild dice, allowing you to control the entire flow of the battle.
Wrathtouched: 120 points
The Wrathtouched is your killing machine: 12 Wounds on Toughness 4, 4 Attacks with Strength 4 and 1/5 damage. While the damage output seems low compared to a cost above average, his Triple, Furious Rampage, allows to do area damage to anyone within 3″ from him: you roll a dice for each enemy and for every 3-4 you allocate 1 damage, for each 5-6 you allocate as much as the value of the ability.
His high number of Attacks make him a useful tool to fish for critical hits, however the basic damage value is the only thing that cannot be improved in this warband, so you may want to enlist just one.
- Proven with Greataxe: 115 points
- Proven with Greatflail: 115 points
- Proven with Greatspear: 110 points
- Proven with Greatblade: 110 points
The Proven is the elite fighter of this warband. Notably, they do not have any special ability, they can only use the generic ones from the warband (A Vow Fulfilled and Deathblow) and of course the universal ones. With 12 Wounds and Toughness 4 they can guarantee a bit of survivability but they will not last long.
They have all pretty much similar costs and differ only for the weapon profile:
- The Greataxe is the most damaging (3/5) but only 2 Attacks at Strength 4
- The Greatblade is the most balanced, with 3 Attacks (damage 2/4)
- The Greatspear adds range (2″), more damage on critical hit (2/5) but loses 1 Attack (2)
- The Greatflail increases the range further (3″), Strength (5) but at the cost of a lower Attack and damage (2 for 2/4)
As always from a statistical perspective more attacks is usually better, so the Greatblade is probably our favourite (and the miniature with the Conan-looking pose is definitely one of the best in the warband). The Greataxe is another good candidate because of the minimum damage 3 and the Greatflail is slightly better than the Greatspear because it keeps the enemy at distance with those 3″ range while Strength 5 allows to dent the heaviest enemy armours.
Although that is your starting point, remember each one of them can increase his Toughness, Attack and Strength by 1 each time they kill an enemy and use A Vow Fulfilled. The Greataxe then becomes the prime candidate to increase Attacks with its minimum damage of 3.
Note that a single box allows you to assemble 2 Proven but you can only choose between Greatspear or Greataxe and Greatblade or Greatflail.
- Gloryseeker with Shield: 75 points
- Gloryseeker with Paired Weapons: 75 points
- Gloryseeker with Greataxe: 70 points
- Gloryseeker with Spear and Axe: 65 points
The Gloryseekers are your basic infantry and also the cheapest unit in this warband. As the Proven, they also don’t have special abilities outside of those shared by the entire warband and have a similar starting profile with 10 Wounds and Toughness 3.
Having Strength 4 they are actually decent basic fighters, with their weapon profiles differing enough:
- The Shield adds 1 to the Toughness putting them in pair with the Proven but with lower Attacks (2 for 1/3 damage)
- Paired Weapons are the opposite, putting 4 Attacks in the fray
- The Greataxe is the one with the highest damage (2/4) but only 2 Attacks
- The Spear allows a 2″ range for 1/4 damage and the Axe adds another weapon profile for 3 Attacks but at Strength 3 (for 1/3 damage).
The same recommendations for the Proven work here as well: more Attacks means more chances of hitting and more chances for critical hits favouring the Paired Weapons. However the Greataxe is the prime candidate to use A Vow Fulfilled as the damage is the only characteristic that cannot be changed and higher is better.
The Spear is interesting as it compensates the low Toughness with the ability to hit without being engaged, but the Axe is a good compromise between Attacks (3) and damage at the cost of the lowest Strength in the warband (3, but the Spear is still at Strength 4). Since it comes with the cheapest profile in the warband, it can be worth exploring the use of few of them, especially if you are exceeding your point limit by few points.
The good news is that in their box you can assemble 5 of them with a variety of options, only the Greataxe is limited to one.
Abilities for the Darkoath Savagers Warband
- A Vow Fulfilled (Double, Everyone): If an enemy is killed during the activation of this ability, for the rest of the battle you can increment by 1 per enemy killed Toughness, Attacks or Strength of one weapon profile.
- Visions of Glory (Double, God-speaker): Add up to 6 wild dice to be used from next round.
- Display of Brutality (Double, all Slaughterborns): A bonus move or attack after taking down an enemy.
- Curse of Withering (Double, God-speaker): A chance to permanently or temporarily reduce the Toughness of an enemy close-by.
- Furious Rampage (Triple, Wrathtouched): A chance to damage all nearby enemy units up to 6 damage each.
- Deathblow (Quad, Everyone): Add up to 6 to all hits for the next melee attack action.
Strategy and Tactics for the Darkoath Savagers Warband
Darkoath Savagers are an interesting warband with one of the coolest mechanics seen until now, extremely thematic.
Only 3 characters in the entire warband have access to specific abilities, but everyone is able to use A Vow Fulfilled that for a Double allows a model that kills an enemy to increase permanently for the rest of the battle a characteristic between Toughness, Strength and Attacks.
This is a double edged sword: while at the beginning it can really inspire your fighters and allow you to increase their values while chasing down the weakest opponents, towards the end game you will be facing the harder enemies and you need to rely on Deathblow for some extra damage. If you encounter elite warbands however, it will be much more difficult to get there and you will need to rely on hitting hard and first.
The overall low Toughness of the warband is negatively paired with an average Wound count despite the Slaughterborn matching all other original Warcry warband leaders.
What can really change the warband behaviour is the God-speaker. You can use him to control the flow of the battle by generating wild dice and ensuring you have what is needed. Your first round should be used with the highest Double that you have for Visions of Glory, and since you are unlikely to engage anyone the first round, you can activate the God-speaker, use the ability, wait, activate again, use the ability again and then move. This way you can generate enough wild dice to last for a while, but if you end up consuming them, you can always trigger the ability again in later rounds.
Why would you need those wild dice? For example to decide who starts first. If you rolled many doubles or above and you don’t have the Initiative, you can try to add the singles that you need with wild dice to ensure you are the first to start. Or you can try to have a high Triple to use the Wrathtouched Furious Rampage hoping in some good area damage.
Conversely, if you don’t care about Initiative, you can convert all those singles in Doubles and try to fulfil as many vows as you can! Careful however: in its current wording and with our interpretation, you need first to swear the oath (i.e. declare the ability) and then kill the enemy, not the other way around. Hence it is possible to waste an ability if the Chaos Gods don’t smile at you. Or to kill an enemy with an unexpected critical hit when all you wanted to do was to soften it for another fighter: Chaos Gods can be tricksters.
Once you have established your pool of wild dice, the God-speaker has still some work to do. While keeping him distant enough from a fight, you can use Curse of Withering to reduce the Toughness of an enemy leader or difficult opponent, so that the others can finish him off.
And if you manage to get a Quad (or a Triple and add a wild dice), then you can have your fighters with the highest amount of attacks try a Deathblow for increased damage output (up to 9 damage or a normal hit of a Proven with Greataxe and a Quad with value 6).
In our experience this is the warband that complements each other better, with a cohesive force with good starting stats and the ability to improve on them. A Toughness of 4 is absolutely average, especially in Chaos, while Strength 4 on the entire warband, including the cheapest fighters, is really rare, making this warband one of the most balanced of Grand Alliance Chaos.
Movement 4″ is what they are going to suffer the most as there’s no one that exceeds it (the God-speaker has even 3″), but don’t forget universal abilities like Rush (adds 1″ per Movement action).
Careful also with the overall level of Wounds in the warband and the lack of ranged options: the 7″ of the God-speaker are the maximum this warband can strive for, with a couple of 2″ and the 3″ of the Proven with Greatflail. Do not underestimate the ability to protect your fighters from retaliation with a 2″ range.
Overall this warband will have 9/10 fighters, allowing you to play any type of scenario that you may encounter and are enough beginner-friendly to be recommended to anyone.
Pros and Cons of the Darkoath Savagers Warband
+ Excellent abilities
+ Good warband cohesion
+ Good attacking stats
– Low wounds
– Low movement
– Could struggle with elite warbands
– Limited range capabilities
Some thematic warbands for the Darkoath Savagers
Just for fun here we present few thematic warbands, meant more for fun or narrative context than for competitive play. Note that in narrative play you need to control at least two territories before mustering your first hero.
Out of the box: Slaughterborn with Greatblade, God-speaker, Wrathtouched, Proven with Greataxe, Proven with Greatblade, 2 Gloryseeker with Shield, 1 Gloryseeker with Greataxe, 1 Gloryseeker with Spear and Axe and 1 Gloryseeker with Paired Weapons, straight from the Red Harvest box.
How to buy a Darkoath Savagers Warband
Darkoath Savagers are available only in the Red Harvest box set together with the Tarantulos Brood warband and some really cool scenery. The box costs £130, so that is a steep price, but soon a separate box should be available to complete your collection of Savagers.
The sprues allow you to build:
- 1 Slaughterborn with either weapon option
- 1 God-spoken
- 1 Wrathtouched
- 1 Proven, either with Greatspear or with Greataxe
- 1 Proven, either with Greatblade or with Greatflail
- 2 Gloryseekers either with Shield or Paired Weapons
- 1 Gloryseeker either with Spear and Axe or Paired Weapons
- 1 Gloryseeker either with Spear and Axe or Shield
- 1 Gloryseeker either with Greataxe or Paired Weapons
For a total of 10 miniatures (of which 2 Proven and 5 Gloryseekers). To have every single weapon option for the Proven you will need to have at least 2 sets of Darkoath Savagers, while it is possible to combine the Gloryseekers to have at least one of each weapon option.
Tips on painting a Darkoath Savagers Warband for Warcry
Darkoath Savagers are classic barbarians and can be painted however you prefer. Warhammer Community has some old videos on how to paint the Darkoath Warqueen, the predecessor of all Darkoath barbarians.
If you prefer something more recent, maybe take advantage of the contrast paints like Guilliman Flesh for the skin tone, then Tabletop Skirmish Games has a video on most units, including a Slaughterborn, a Proven and a God-Speaker.