Soulblight Gravelords is the spiritual successor to Legions of Nagash Warcry warband. While technically Legions of Nagash army in Age of Sigmar is not a valid army any more for matched play, it still is for Warcry and there are enough differences to be analysed separately.
If you already have a Legions of Nagash or a Soulblight army, you have enough miniatures to play Warcry and start a Gravelords Warband: all you need is the free rules published in Warhammer Community website and join someone with a board, the rules and some scenery. The Cursed City box is also an excellent way to start a Soulblight Gravelord Warband (and you could make a cool Cities of Sigmar warband with the heroes in that box)
Pale but deadly vampires are the leaders of a warband of minions raised from the undead to continue their slaughter for eternity. But they are not the only ones to dabble in necromantic magic, with the Necromancer known to lead personally their resurrected companions and Wight Kings still ruling their kingdoms even after death.
This short introduction takes you through the fighters of the Soulblight Gravelords warband, their abilities, and a few tips on strategy and painting the models.
Background and lore of Soulblight Gravelords warband
The Soulblight Gravelords armies are composed of shambling hordes of undead that serve Nagash and his lieutenants for eternity.
Those beings, for which there is no rest nor peace even in death, are raised and commanded by a fixed hierarchy, where everyone serves Nagash, the Lord of Undeath and self-proclaimed master of all of Shyish, the Realm of Death.
Vampires can trace their genealogy all the way to the first, Neferata and Mannfred, brough back by Nagash from the destruction of the World-That-Was to serve him as his Mortarchs. In time the blood kiss was distributed to many other vampires, each cursed to forever lust for human blood to satisfy the beast within in exchange for incredible powers.
Vampires are not the only leaders of undead, as many lesser lords are able to raise their own armies or warbands and venture forth to serve the will of the Great Necromancer.
Those can be skeletal wight kings commanding infinite hordes of skeletons or necromancers raising from the graves all sort of horrors, from zombies to other beings.
Since the Necroquake the dead became restless across all the Mortal Realms, and where, if not in the Eightpoints, where there is an abundance of long-dead proud warriors ready to serve once again in the Afterlife?
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Soulblight Gravelord 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
Vampire Lord: 225 points
The Vampire Lord is the strongest melee leader in this warband with an average damage second only to the Vargskyr (4 attacks at Strength 4 for 2/6 damage).
If you are used to the vampires from Legions of Nagash, this is quite an upgrade. He is now more resistant (Toughness 5 with 25 wounds), faster (5″ still flying) and access to many interesting abilities.
Let’s start with the default ability all leaders can use: Summon Undead Minion. For a Triple a leader can now bring back from the dead a fighter with a Minion runemark (Grave Guards, Skeletons and Zombies) previously slain at full health. It needs to be placed within 3″ of a leader, allowing it to increase the protection of a leader or control of an objective.
Vampire Lords (and Blood Knights) also have access to Thirst for Blood, allowing them for a Triple to heal back up to 12 wounds (double the value of the ability) after taking down an enemy. It can be a game changer when your opponent loses one of their fighters and you return back to full health.
Vampire Lord and Kastellan can also use Call the Crimson Feast, one of the strongest abilities in this warband. For a Triple, any friendly fighter within 6″ adds 1 to their Attack characteristic. Considering the horde of skeletons that you can field, you can increase the slaughter around your leader for a full round.
As you would expect from a warband led by bloodthirsty vampires, the Vampire Lord is the ideal leader of the warband at a good price, tough, able to heal himself and with a few different utility abilities.
Necromancer: 150 points
The Necromancer is an important piece in the army able to activate your other fighters within his round, but now it’s probably better suited as a hero rather than a leader.
This is because leaders in Soulblight need to be in range to allow certain fighters to use their abilities, and you want to have a tough leader to ensure you have that option as long as possible.
The Necromancer with toughness 3 and 20 wounds is really fragile and needs to be well protected.
Another reason to keep him surrounded by cheap infantry is his special ability, Necrotic Siphon, that for a Triple allows you to transfer vital energy (heal Wounds) from a friendly fighter to the Necromancer.
But where he excels is his quad ability, Vanhel’s Danse Macabre, a nice reference to his signature spell in Age of Sigmar, that allows a bonus move or a bonus action to up to 6 friendly fighters within range.
This complements the profile of a good support hero his ranged attack (3-7”) with good damage (3/6) while the close combat option still has 2” range, useful to hit the closer enemies while keeping your skeletons in between.
- Wight King: 170 points
- Wight King on Skeletal Steed: 225 points
The Wight Kings are the commanders of the skeleton hordes allies of the vampires. They come in two forms: on foot or mounted on skeletal steed.
The mounted version has a spear providing 2″ range, 3 attacks at Strength 5 for 2/5 damage. The standard one has a more balanced weapon profile with 4 attacks at Strength 4 and same damage.
Toughness 5 and high wounds (25 and 30 respectively) makes them good leader options with high survivability.
Their special ability, Beheading Strike, is forgettable, allowing to add damage on critical hits only on the next attack action.
The mounted version can also perform Deathly Charge allocating up to 6 damage to a nearby enemy at the end of a movement phase. It also increases the movement range to 8″ compensating for extremely slow skeletons (3″).
- Vargoyle: 245 points
- Vargheist: 195 points
The Vargheists are the flying unit of this warband with a Movement of 8″. High Wounds (35 and 30 respectively) and average Toughness (4) guarantees them some survivability.
The Vargoyle is the leader of a Vargheist unit, with a good melee profile (4 Attacks at Strength 4 for 2/5 damage). The Vargheist has the same profile but less damage (1/4).
Both have access to Blood-maddened Frenzy, that for a Double allows a bonus attack or move after taking down an enemy.
But all of this comes at the cost of the most expensive leader in the warband and the second most expensive non-leader fighter.
- Kastellan: 210 points
- Blood Knight with Templar Blade: 170 points
- Blood Knight with Templar Lance: 175 points
Blood Knights benefit from a brand-new kit and new rules that allow to use any combination of weapon profile in Age of Sigmar.
A Kastellan is basically a Vampire Lord on horse. He loses the Flying runemark but increases Movement to 8″. Being mounted he has access to Deathly Charge, enabling up to 6 damage at the end of a movement action.
He is also able to heal himself when taking down an enemy (Thirst for Blood) or, like other leaders, to bring back slain fighters (Summon Undead Minion).
The rest of the profile is identical to the Vampire Lord but with less damage (2/5).
Blood Knights have access to the same abilities (Deathly Charge and Thirst for Blood), but have 2 different weapon profiles: the Blade provides 3 Attacks at Strength 4 for 2/4 damage, while the Spear with 2″ range loses 1 attack but increases Strength to 5. They also have slightly less wounds (22 instead of 25).
Be careful that as mounted figures, they cannot climb, open doors or pass through archways.
Vyrkos Blood-Born: 120 points
If Beheading Strike of the Wight Kings is one really situational and probably not that useful ability, Vyrkos and Vargskyr have one even more situational and less useful one. Vampiric Agility allows for a Double to ignore vertical distance when climbing. With 8″ movevement the Vyrkos will most likely never need to use it unless you are preparing some scenic ambush from the sky. Albeit it, it can be clutch in that situation where you really need to get on top of that building with extra actions to spare.
Outside of that Vyrkos have decent attacks (4 at Strength 4 for 1/5 damage) but low survivability with Toughness 3 and 15 wounds. Just overall very expensive for what they do.
Vargskyr: 220 points
An impressive model with a barely useful ability (Vampiric Agility, see Vyrkos), it is the most expensive non-leader fighter but also gifted with an impressive damage output (2 Attacks at Strength 5 for 3/6 damage).
35 Wounds and Toughness 4 makes him tough to knock down but costs more than a Vargheist for little more benefit. The Vargheist with 4 attacks on average does slightly less damage than a Vargskyr (although it has a higher potential), but adds 8″ of flying movement against the 6″ of the Vargskyr. And yeah, flying is just sodamn good.
Another big difference is the ability of the Vargheist to perform a bonus attack or move for a Double after killing an enemy while the Vargskyr can climb walls for free for a Double…
Kosargi Nightguard: 170 points
Another model coming from Cursed City board game, no ability to his name, but a decent profile as a heavy damager: strength 5 and 2/5 damage at 2″ range.
Toughness 4 and 30 wounds make him a tough opponent. It costs less than a Vargheist, but in this case the difference in cost can be justified.
- Hell Knight: 140 points
- Black Knight: 110 points
Black Knights are the lighter cavalry of this warband, compared to the Blood Knights, but they have the same movement of 8″.
They do have less wounds (22 and 18 respectively) and less Toughness (4) but they become an interesting option in a thematic skeletons-only warband.
Melee wise they have a 2″ range that allows to not engage and still hit the enemy, however their special ability, Deathly Charge, damages only after a movement that ends within 1″ of an enemy.
The rest of the Black Knight melee profile is in line with their on-foot counterpart with Spear: 2 attacks at Strength 3 for 1/4 damage. The Hell Knight reduces the range to 1″, increases attacks to 3 and damage to 2/4.
The Hell Knight is the leader of this unit and as a Champion he also can perform Chosen Champion, that for a Quad, if within 6″ of a leader, provides an extra attack action with up to 3 more attacks bringing him to 6 attacks for one action.
- Seneschal: 125 points
- Grave Guard with Wight Blade and Crypt Shield: 70 points
- Grave Guard with Great Wight Blade: 70 points
The champion of the elite unit Grave Guard is the Seneschal. With Toughness 4 and movement 3″ they don’t last long but they can hit really hard with 4 Attacks at Strength 5 (damage 2/4).
The basic Grave Guard comes with 2 possible options: one with a Great Wight Blade and one with Wight Blade and Crypt Shield.
The difference between the two is that the 2-handed weapon version hits at strength 5 with +1 damage on normal hit. The shield however increases Toughness from 3 to 4 guaranteeing more survivability to a 10 wounds fighter.
As a Chosen Champion the Seneschal can perform an extra attack for a Quad, while all of them are Minions, therefore they can be resurrected by a leader for a Triple (Summon Undead Minion), can perform a bonus Move up to 6″ for a Double (Shambling Horde), can be sacrificed to a Necromancer to heal him back or to perform bonus moves or actions after the Necromancer uses Vanhel’s Danse Macabre.
You’ll almost never have a Triple and a Quad available but if you do, a Necromancer and a Vampire Lord can transform your horde in veritable killing machines with free attack actions and +1 attack to anyone in range.
- Skeleton Champion: 70 points
- Skeleton Warrior with Ancient Blade: 50 points
- Skeleton Warrior with Ancient Spear: 50 points
Like the Seneschal and the Hell Knight, also the Skeleton Champion has access to the Chosen Champion ability, but apart that he is a slightly better version of the basic skeletons.
4 wounds more at Toughness 4 can make him last a bit longer and the extra damage on critical hit makes him an interesting choice.
The base skeletons have same Toughness but 8 wounds meaning they are going to last really little.
There are two versions: the Ancient Spear for 2” weapon range and +1 damage on critical versus the Ancient Blade version for +1 attack.
The spear version is extremely useful if you manage to use the scenery to block access to an area and form two ranks of miniatures or to hit the enemy behind the front line but the Blade in almost all situations generates more damage.
All Skeletons are minions and as such have access to a series of abilities, see Grave Guard.
Deadwalker Zombie: 50 points
The Zombies have the same identical profile and cost as a Skeleton Warrior with Spear, but 2 Wounds more to compensate the 1″ range of the weapon.
Probably the worst trade-off in history, but if you are a fan of Zombie movies you can recreate your own favourite scene with a horde of these expendable fighters.
And don’t forget they are minions therefore can be used for many abilities.
Abilities for the Soulblight Gravelords Warband
- Shambling Horde (Double, all Grave Guards, Skeletons and Zombies): up to 6″ bonus move when starting in range of a visible leader.
- Vampiric Agility (Double, Vyrkos and Vargskyr): do not count vertical distance when climbing.
- Blood-maddened Feeding Frenzy (Double, Vargoyle and Vargheist): perform a bonus move or attack after killing an enemy.
- Beheading Strike (Double, all Wight Kings): add up to 3 to the damage on critical hits for the next melee attack.
- Necrotic Siphon (Double, Necromancer): steal wounds from a friendly Minion fighter to heal back the double to the Necromancer.
- Deathly Charge (Triple, all Blood Knights and Black Knights): deal up to 6 damage to an engaged enemy at the end of the next movement.
- Thirst for Blood (Triple, Vampire Lord and all Blood Knights): heal up to 12 wounds after taking down an enemy.
- Summon Undead Minion (Triple, all Leaders): return a slain Minion model (Grave Guard, Skeleton or Zombie) to the table fully healed.
- Call the Crimson Feast (Triple, Vampire Lord and all Blood Knights): add 1 to the melee Attacks to all friendly fighters within 6″ of the leader.
- Chosen Champion (Quad, Seneschal, Hell Knight and Skeleton Champion): while within 6″ of a Leader, perform a bonus attack and add up to 3 to the Attack characteristic.
- Vanhel’s Danse Macabre (Quad, Necromancer): perform a bonus move or attack with up to 6 fighters in range.
Strategy and Tactics for the Soulblight Gravelords Warband
Soulblight Gravelords warbands can be composed of many different units using different tactics to achieve victory.
You can have an extremely elite warband formed only of your best champions, or a horde of minions to command at your will and submerge your opponent with high numbers.
Ideally a warband would be led by a Vampire Lord allowing the use of Call the Crimson Feast to add attacks to the horde of minions surrounding the leader. A Vampire Lord is also a highly survivable fighter, with high Toughness, decent wounds and the ability to heal himself.
Leaders can also bring back all minions that already fell (Summon Undead Minion) full health denying the opponent important points for felling specific fighters or a number of them.
A Necromancer is also an extremely important tool with his Vanhel’s Danse Macabre allowing extra actions to the surrounding minions. While he is too fragile for a leader position, he is a perfect hero to follow your choice as main leader, thanks also to the only ranged option available in the entire army (up to 7″).
The mounted leaders have the problem that cannot open doors, go through archways or climb, but in maps with wide spaces, their speed and Deathly Charge provides an extra weapon up your sleeves. The Kastellan is a good alternative to the Vampire Lord, in case you want to focus on a mounted warband for narrative purposes.
The Vargoyle instead provides flying movement, granting extra coverage and extra actions when manages to kill an opponent. He could be an interesting alternative to a vampire lord, but Vargheists, with their ability to fly, are definitely worth considering in any warband.
Wight Kings have the least interesting ability of all leaders, decent damage and good Toughness but the on-foot version is extremely slow (3″) and the mounted one cannot compete with a Kastellan. Yet, they could be thematically leading an army of Deathrattle or used as a support hero to control secondary objectives.
Of the Cursed City (or Radukar’s Court) fighters, the Vyrkos is interesting for his critical damage especially considering the 4 attacks (that can be further increased by a Vampire Lord), the Vargskyr is a slower Vargoyle, tougher but less useful and the Kosargi are actually valid tools considering their high survivability with the 30 wounds.
Blood Knights are powerful vampires, able to heal themselves and damage enemies on impact with their 8″ movement and Deathly Charge.
Black Knights and their champion, the Hell Knight, are good alternatives to Blood Knights, but they are neither as strong or as resistant as them. They are cheaper though, and they can complement a Deathrattle warband.
Hell Knight, Seneschal and Skeleton Champion are able to use Chosen Champion, a powerful ability that provides a bonus attack action with up to +3 attack. A Seneschal can become 7 attacks at Strength 5 for one single action: extra deadly! The problem of this ability is the same as Shambling Horde: it requires a leader to be within range of the activated fighter. For this reason survivability of a Soulblight leader is so important in this warband.
Minions (Grave Guards, Skeletons and Zombies, including their champions) provide extra layer of synergies with many abilities that can be activated, including bringing them back from the dead for a Triple. Imagine a Seneschal returning back in time to protect his leader after falling a moment earlier.
Minions are usually slow (3″) but while close to a leader they can perform a bonus move at the cost of a Double, surprising an enemy with a last minute objective snatching.
All minions have their own weapon profile, but they are pretty similar to each other. Which to choose will depend from the extra points left and personal preference.
In summary it’s a warband that can give a lot of satisfaction and has lots of options available. It can be built thematically around one of its traits (skeletons vs vampires) or mixed up. And don’t forget if you play narrative to add some Thralls!
Pros and cons of Legions of Nagash
+ Horde army but with elite options
+ Versatile with many options
+ Ability to bring back dead comrades
– No ranged options except one leader
Some thematic warbands for Legions of Nagash Warband
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.
Skeleton Horde: A Wight King on Skeletal Steed, 2 Black Knights, 1 Seneschal, 2 Grave Guards with Great Wight Blade, 1 Grave Guard with Crypt Shield, 1 Skeleton Champion and 3 Skeleton Warriors with Ancient Spear. For more survivability swap a Black Knight and Skeleton for a Necromancer.
Dawn of the Dead: A Necromancer, 2 Kosargi Nightguards and 10 Zombies. Well that is a horde people will remember …
Vampire Galore: Vampire Lord, 1 Vargheist, 2 Blood Knights (either weapon), 2 Vyrkos for a super-elite army with high speed.
How to buy a Soulblight Gravelords Warband
Note: all prices used are standard Games Workshop prices. It is possible to get the different things cheaper (check the links for prices).
Since Soulblight Gravelords replaced Legions of Nagash in Age of Sigmar, most old models have been either removed from the market or replaced by newer models.
Since undead are such a common theme, it is very easy to get your hands on good 3D printing files for undead miniatures. I recommend taking a look at various Patreon pages (and getting yourself a good 3D printer if you are serious about printing)
Here are the single blister models:
- Vampire Lord, £18.5 for the official model, but you can find many alternative models in the old sculps (second-hand), Cursed City or in the Warhammer Underworlds warband Crimson Court.
- Necromancer, £10
- Wight King, £10
- Wight King on Skeletal Steed, it is available at the moment only in the new Start Collecting set for £60 with 20 Grave Guards and 5 Black Knights
The Blood Knights box comes with 5 models in a completely new box for £39.5, allowing to field 1 Kastellan and 4 Knights with a combination of weapons (an AoS unit can use any weapon).
The Vargheist box is another one of the different options available from the Flesh-Eater Courts Crypt Flayers/Horrors box (£30).
From the board game Cursed City there is a new box containing the elite monsters from that game. For £78 you can find 3 Vyrkos Blood-born, 2 Kosargi Nightguard and 1 Vargskyr. The other 3 models could be used as an alternative Necromancer or Wight King. If you have Cursed City, you already have 10 Skeletons and 10 Zombies on top of all the above. But, that all means you need to get your hands on the box. And for all intent and purposes it seems to be gone for good.
The Black Knights box costs £25 and is a GW webstore exclusive. It comes with 5 models and the ability to assemble the leader as a Hell Knight. Alternatively you can find 5 Knights in the new Soulblight Start Collecting box.
The Grave Guard box contains 10 miniatures and allows you to create 2 Seneschals (although only one every 10 is now allowed in Age of Sigmar) and 8 other guards with either combination of 2-handed weapon or blade and shield. Only one weapon profile is allowed every 10 models.
The brand new Skeletons are available in boxes of 20 for £36.5 allowing any combination of weapon and up to 2 champion options.
A cheaper box with another Skeleton Champion is the Sepulchral Guard, a warband for Warhammer Underworlds (15£).
If you need spears, there is one scythe in the same warband you can proxy.
The last kit to complete the warband is the Deadwalker Zombies, a whooping 20 models in the same box for a veritable undead horde (£34.5).
Tips on painting the Soulblight Gravelords
Show me your skelemebobs!
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.
Grave Guard and Skeletons can be painted really similar and they fit perfectly the batch painting tutorials available online, in particular the one from the Citadel website.
The necromancer can be painted in different ways and really only your creativity is the limit but would probably recommend using darker tones for the robes and paler colours for the flesh.
If you want to get a bit more creative and maybe learn a new painting technique, I suggest doing them with a “wet-blend basecoat”. It is a quick and easy skill, which even beginners can get great results from. I learned this from Sam Lenz doing it some skeletons from the Sepulchral Guard.
If you want some inspiration on how to paint vampires or zombies, there’s plenty of tutorials everywhere, starting from the Crimson Court from Warhammer Community to the Deadwalkers from Duncan Rhodes.