“Night is our weapon”
The Khainite Shadowstalkers are a warband for advanced players for the skirmish game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Warcry. They are fragile but fast and manoeuvrable, striking from the shadows and dancing between foes with their sharp blades and Ulguan magic.
If you like a challenging but rewarding warband, the Khainite Shadowstalkers might be just the right warband for you.
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Background and Lore of the Khainite Shadowstalkers Warband
The Khainite Shadowstalkers are the covert agents of the Daughters of Khaine. They are fierce melee fighters like their sisters in the main Daughters of Khaine army, but their queen Morathi has given them powers of Ulguan shadow magic which allows them to blend into shadows to move unseen and strike from unexpected places.
Wherever they go on missions for their queen, they fight with a combination of bladed weapons, crossbows and magic achieved through pacts with the shadow daemons of Ulgu. They wear very little armor and can easily be killed – if you can get them to stand still for more than a second.
Through a combination of acrobatic agility and their magical powers, they fight like dancing shadows, striking in one place and then immediately popping up in another to strike another target.
Let’s have a look at their fighters and abilities.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Khainite Shadowstalkers 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
Shadow Queen (190 points)
The Shadow Queen is a very versatile Leader for the Khainite Shadowstalkers: She is fast with a Move of 6, and combines that with a 4 inch range Attack and a Quad ability that lets her do damage to all enemies within 3 or 6 inches of her.
This means that she is able to go where you need her to go and reach more targets than a more melee-focused Leader, an advantage that is only made greater if you use the warband-wide Double ability Shadow Leap, which lets her fly when she moves.
On top of that, she has a good melee attack, but don’t let that tempt you into throwing her into a fight too early in the game: The Shadow Queen’s unique ability Ensnaring Darkness gets greater range if you apply 3 damage to her as you cast it, so you really need her to have some Wounds left in case you roll a great Quad roll for a chance to do up to 6 damage to all enemy fighters within 6 inches.
If you want your Shadow Queen to stay alive in melee for long enough to do the most damage she can, put her in a battle group with a Darkflame Warlock who can protect her (more on that below).
Shroudblade with Cursed Swords (90 points)
The Shroudblades are the basic fighter types of the Khainite Shadowstalkers, and they come in two variants: The Shroudblade with Cursed Swords and the Shroudblade with Umbral Spear.
The Shroudblade with Cursed Swords, like its spear-wielding sister, is quite expensive for a basic fighter, but with 5 Movement, 4 Attacks and 4 critical damage, it behaves more like what you expect from an elite fighter in other warbands.
Its main disadvantage is a low Wounds characteristic of 8, but it shouldn’t matter too much since when you’re playing the Khainite Shadowstalkers, you don’t want to stay in melee combat for too long anyway.
Like the rest of the warband, it has access to the Double ability Shadow Leap which lets it fly for an activation, and the Triple ability Dance of Death, which lets it move into melee range of enemy fighters when disengaging. These abilities, combined with the Shroudblades good Move value, makes it a very mobile fighter who is able to both get into combat fast and redeploying to another target before the enemy can fight back.
Both Shroudblade fighter types also have access to the Double ability Cursed Darts which lets you roll dice to do damage to an enemy fighter at range. On a roll of 6, this ability also lets you halve the Move characteristic of the target for the rest of the battle round, which plays very well into the general Shadowstalker playstyle of always having the upper hand when it comes to picking who to fight and where.
If the enemy has an amazing fighter with great damage and abilities, it doesn’t really matter if they can’t move it where it needs to go.
So, while the Shroudblades are expensive, they can do good damage and have plenty of tactical uses in combat, especially when it comes to movement and constraining the movement of the enemy.
Shroudblade with Umbral Spear (90 points)
The Shroudblade with Umbral Spear costs the same and is almost identical to the Shroudblade with Cursed Swords. The only difference is its 2 inch Range spear attack which has one Attack less than the Shroudblade with Cursed Swords.
Having a 2 inch Range attack is always good in Warcry, but it is a bit redundant on a Shroudblade because it makes the Dance of Death ability wasted on this fighter, since it wouldn’t want to move within one inch Range of an enemy fighter anyway. This just means that you don’t have to waste a Double roll on your spearwielding Shroudblades, so it isn’t a bad replacement for the swords.
Whether you want to build your Shroudblades as wielding Cursed Swords or Umbral Spears is a matter of strategy: If you plan on doing a lot of hit and run attacks, you should go with Cursed Swords since it gives you an extra attack for a fighter that will often use one of its actions on a Move action (which would make 4 attacks in such an activation inarguably better than 3).
If you want some of your Shroudblades to protect other fighters or sit on objectives, the extra inch of Range from the spear would come in handy.
Darkflame Warlock with Repeater Crossbows (100 points)
The Darkflame Warlocks are the closest the Khainite Shadowstalkers have to a defensive fighter type. They come in two variants at the same points cost, the Darkflame Warlock with Repeater Crossbows and the Darkflame Warlock with Doomfire Ring.
The Darkflame Warlock with Repeater Crossbows has an 8 inch Range attack (so no minimum Range) with 4 attacks and 3 critical damage. This isn’t an amazing ranged attack at all, but doing damage isn’t the primary function of a Darkflame Warlock anyway.
What your Darkflame Warlocks really add to your arsenal is their Triple ability Harness Shadow which subtracts 1 Attacks from any attack action that target friendly fighters within 3 inches of the Darkflame Warlock until the end of the battle round.
This is a significant debuff to enemy damage output, since it also counts for attacks being made outside of the 3 inch bubble as long as those attacks target a fighter within the bubble.
The debuff goes away if the Warlock is taken out of action, since no fighter will then be within 3 inches of it, so activating this ability will make your Warlock a target for your enemy. This means you have to be very careful about where you place your fighters before using the ability.
The Darklame Warlocks only have 8 Wounds, so keep them behind your other fighters, but close enough for everyone to benefit from Harness Darkness.
Darkflame Warlock with Doomfire Ring (100 points)
The Darkflame Warlock with Doomfire Ring is mostly identical to the Darkflame Warlock with Repeater Crossbows, but it splits its attacks between a Ranged attack with 4 critical damage, but with less Range, a minimum Range and two fewer Attacks, and a lousy melee attack.
Since your Darkflame Warlocks should always be as far away from the enemy as they can, I would always recommend the one inch extra Range of the Repeater Crossbows over the slightly better critical damage of the Doomfire Ring, but the box lets you build both your Darkflame Warlocks as either variant, so it’s very much up to you.
Slaughtershade with Umbral Spears (120 points)
The Slaughtershades are the elite fighters of the Khainite Shadowstalkers and, like the other non-Leader fighter types in the warband, come in two variants, equipped with either Umbral Spears or a Shadow Whip.
The Slaughtershade with Umbral Spears has 12 Wounds, which is the highest of the warband except for the Leader, but it is still pretty low for an elite fighter.
It has a good damage profile, with a 2 inch Range spear attack with 4 Attacks and a critical damage of 4, which works well with the Slaughtershade special ability, the Double Instrument of Khaine, which gives you a bonus move or attack action after taking an enemy fighter out of action.
Since this is a Double ability, you will almost always be able to use it, and if you don’t pull off the kill required to trigger it, the Slaughtershade also has access to the slowing ranged attacks of the Cursed Darts ability.
Slaughtershade with Shadow Whip (120 points)
The Slaughtershade with Shadow Whip serves the same function in your warband as the Slaughtershade with Umbral Spears, but has a more interesting weapon profile with a 4 inch Range attack, fewer Attacks, but a damage of 2 and the same critical damage.
There are pros and cons to both weapon loadouts, but the 4 inch Range of the Shadow Whip gives you a pretty great threat range which increases your chances of killing more than one (injured) enemy fighter in one activation with the Instrument of Khaine ability.
Then again, the Slaughtershades have a very average Strength on their attacks, so the Shadow Whip’s extra point of normal damage isn’t that much of an advantage over the extra point to Attacks for the Umbral Spears.
Abilities for the Khainite Shadowstalkers Warband
- Shadow Leap (Double, Everyone): allows the fighter to fly for one activation
- Cursed Darts (Double, Shroudblade and Slaughtershade) lets you roll dice for a chance to do damage and/or slow down an enemy fighter at 9 inch range
- Instrument of Khaine (Double, Slaughtershade) Gives a bonus move or attack action after killing an enemy
- Harness Shadow (Triple, Darkflame Warlock) Debuff incoming enemy attacks against this fighter for the rest of the battle round
- Dance of Death (Triple, Everyone) lets you use disengage actions to move close to enemy fighters
- Ensnaring Darkness (Quad, Shadow Queen) Do damage in an aura around the Shadow Queen, and do even more damage if you assign some damage to her first.
Strategy and Tactics for the Khainite Shadowstalkers
The Khainite Shadowstalkers are great at granting you control over when and where to fight the enemy. They have good Movement characteristics, good Movement and relocation abilities, ranged attacks, spear attacks and abilities that do damage at range.
They can slow down enemies, disengage a strong enemy only to engage a new target, and the Warlocks can even reduce enemy attacks in an aura around them.
This mostly makes up for their main disadvantage, but it is still there as something to be considered in any strategy you come up with: Khainite Shadowstalker fighters are very fragile for their points cost.
Your Leader has 20 Wounds, which is average at best for a Leader, and then the beefiest fighter after that is the Slaughtershade at a very humble 12 Wounds. The rest of the Warband has 8 Wounds each, which is about the lowest a (humanoid) fighter in Warcry will go.
Combine this with everyone but the Leader having a Toughness of 3, and you have a warband that is exceptionally vulnerable to not just critical damage, but normal damage as well.
This means that the Shadowstalkers are a warband that should only be played by players who really like to micromanage. None of your fighters should be allowed to end up in melee combat for any longer than it takes them to make an attack action, or you’ll be out of fighters pretty quickly.
Just marching everyone into combat is just not going to work in the way it might for a cheap horde warband or for the Ironjawz or similar warbands with a mountain of Wounds on each fighter.
So, as a Shadowstalkers player, you have to play aggressively (to kill anything before it can kill you back), but carefully. You have to think a few moves ahead, but if you do, you can pull off some great combos.
Keeping a Darkflame Warlock close to your Leader and other valuable fighters is always a good way of granting your warband at least some survivability, so try to get those in a battle group together.
Another battlegroup could consist of some Shroudblades with another Warlock so you have a strike force for capturing objectives, and then a final battlegroup with Shroudblades that can screen a Slaughtershade or two (since the Slaughtershades can do damage from behind the Shroudblades with their improved range, especially the Shadow Whip version).
Alternatively, the Slaughtershades can go in a battlegroup with the Shadow Queen Leader to really do some damage if you get a good Quad for her Ensnaring Darkness ability, which can injure enemy fighters enough to let the Slaughtershades use their Instrument of Khaine ability to get some extra attacks in.
No matter how you choose to play them, the Khainite Shadowstalkers are a great warband because they give you a lot of tactical options and combine it with a fragility that forces you to think and apply those tactical options to survive.
Pros and Cons of the Khainite Shadowstalkers
+ Good movement and abilities that improve movement
+ Good amount of attacks and critical damage
+ advanced, high stakes playstyle
+ very fragile fighters
+ only 4 types of fighters (with some weapon variants)
+ somewhat expensive fighters considering their fragility
Different build options and how to buy the Khainite Shadowstalkers Warband
- 1 Shadow Queen, which can also be built as a Shadowblade with Umbral Spears
- 4 Shroudblades with Cursed Swords or Umbral Spears
- 1 Shroudblade with Cursed Swords
- 2 Darkflame Warlocks with either Repeater Crossbows or Doomfire Ring
- 1 Slaughtershade with either Shadow Whip or Umbral Spears
Except for the Shadow Queen, all of the options are pretty decent. Swords over spears on the Shroudblades is a bit up to playstyle (do you want range or a bit more attacks?)
The Darkflame Warlock with ring has a minimum range of 3, which makes me think that the crossbow is better. Than again: 1 more attack can mean life or death, so that could also be an option. Overall no big change in playstyle, and none of the options are “bad” in that sense.
Maybe just go with the options that you think are the coolest looking ones?
Tips on painting the Khainite Shadowstalkers
The Khainite Shadowstalkers can be difficult to paint because their shadow-capes often surround parts of the miniature, making it hard to paint them fully assembled.
Otherwise, the models consist of textures familiar to most Warcry painters: lots of skin, cloth, hair, metals and leather. The box art paints them with a heavy contrast between very dark colors on capes and very pale skin, but you could also paint them to fit the color scheme of your Daughters of Khaine army. Warhammer TV has released two tutorials for painting the Shadowstalkers, one for their tabletop standard “Battle Ready” and one for their display standard, “Parade Ready”.
Do you have some sweet looking Khainite Shadowstalkers painted up?
I would very much like to display them right here on this page.
All you have to do is send my some files. You can read more about how to make that happen here.