With the release of the new Army and Mega Army around the corner, we asked Kyle (our resident Kings of War expert) what he believes are the top five units every player should be including in their Empire of Dust army!
Many of Kings of War’s cavalry units epitomize the hammer tool. They focus on achieving a singular devastating charge that can pick off most targets. With speed to position appropriately, or close the gap across terrain so enemy units cannot hide. They strike precisely when you need them to and can turn the tide of battle. Revenant Cavalry however, often find themselves useful in other ways.
Two key elements set this unit apart: Shambling and a Fearless nerve value. Arguably, each one presents a stronger advantage depending on whether you take the unit in a Troop or a Regiment. In Troops, Revenant Cavalry make for surprisingly defensive roadblocks. Or Thick Chaff, as they’re lovingly referred to within the community. A stout Defense of 5+ and -/14 nerve mean you’ve got to commit some real force to remove them from the board. Their base dimensions provide cover to their allies behind. If your opponent tries to be coy, they still come with a 16” charge to tie down the exact threat you need to for an extra turn or two.
Personally, I like to stop them just outside of enemy units, typically centered between two of them forcing your opponent to have few options but to charge them. You can then set clever traps for their reform movement or, if you’re lucky, their Fearless nerve means they just might survive. This buys you additional time to position other elements of your force, or win key engagements before having to address the tied up units.
In Regiments, these bony ponies* can best take advantage of their Shambling special rule. A flank charge with these bad boys will inevitably make your opponent sweat. By advancing and pivoting to align your base with an enemy flank, proper Surge castings can put you right into an opponent’s side, doubling your attacks. Clever opponents will see this coming and often defend against it. A trick I like to keep up my sleeve is to use terrain that blocks line of sight, but allows movement through, like a forest. Starting your Revenant Cavalry completely obscured by the forest, opponents will think they’re safe. You can’t see them, so clearly they’re safe from a charge. But with an 8” movement into the terrain feature, you can often make it most, if not all the way through. As long as you’ve positioned a Surge caster close and within line of sight, they are able to finish the movement with Empire of Dust’s incredible Surge potential and likely hitting the flank your opponent thought wasn’t in any danger at all.
*that’s gonna stick
Boasting a number of the same advantages that Revenant Cavalry have, Chariots come with some added fun. Namely, the sheer option of unit sizes you can take these in. With less than 100 points between a full Legion or Troop, there is incredible flexibility in selection. In addition to having Thunderous Charge (2), they also have Brutal. It’s always nice to get an extra bump on your Nerve roll, but where it really shines is in combination with Cloak of Death from other units. You can effectively add +2 to your damage in combats by synergizing your units in the right way, which is always a scary prospect.
Similarly, Revenant Chariots have the option to upgrade to Cursebows, gaining a ranged attack profile that while not much, is excellent on Shambling units and comes with Shattering – the Ranged phase version of Brutal. At speed 8, you can park your unit just outside of the enemy, fire away, and be Surged into combat getting to “double tap” on damage between phases.
Strictly speaking, this unit has terrifying efficiency. I can’t ever recall a time standing at a table across from Enslaved Guardians and not trying to make sure I had an option for dealing with them. Their strength lies purely in their profile. I like them best in Hordes, because with 18 Crushing Strength (2) attacks on Melee 3+, they will put a sting into just about anything in the game. An above average Defense of 5+ and Lifeleech (1) means they can stay in the fight too.
As with most units in Empire of Dust, the ever present threat of Surge on a Shambling unit has to be accounted for. By keeping this unit as a second wave attacker, they’re able to defend against fliers well or join key combats at the right time. With their upgrade Casket of the Damned, they are able to close gaps through the use of Surge with higher efficiency. Buying Windblast means you can pester opponents by disrupting their battle line or even pushing a unit in a way that changes their arc and allows one of your other Surgable units to hit where it suddenly couldn’t before. More synergy options with the EoD!
If there’s a cornerstone of this army’s support structure, it has to be in the Monolith. So many of the above strategies mentioned can be achieved through the special rule: Monolith. This unit is able to target any Shambling unit within 24”, regardless of line of sight, and cast a Surge (8) spell onto it. It’s clutch to get extra distance when you need it, and this sucker throws these out from practically anywhere. You always have to account for the possibility of these even when other casters are well out of range. Even if your opponent charges it and tries to Disorder it and stop you from casting, the Monolith just simply can’t be Disordered!
In addition to this support, it’s able to move still with a decent Speed of 5, has great defense and an annoyingly high Fearless Nerve of -/17. It’s just as tough to take off as the Enslaved Guardians! And in most scenario play, you are able to use it to score because it has a Unit Strength of 1. All for 120 points! It’s as close to a no-brainer inclusion as it gets for all the help it provides.
Idol of Shobik
Ohhh Shobik. The stories I could tell about this unit. Quite possibly the nastiest Living Legend in the game, the Idol of Shobik comes with everything you could want in a Hero slot. First is the amazing offensive potential with 10 attacks at Crushing Strength (3) and Strider to make sure it cannot be Hindered. Then there’s Shambling if you want to get sneaky on its incredibly maneuverable (and fast!) 50mm base. Next comes its sudden support in the form of an Iron Resolve Aura that will stack wonderfully with so much Lifeleech around – but just in case that wasn’t enough, they had to go ahead and give it Heal (5) and Very Inspiring too. ‘Not so bad’, your opponent thinks seeing it across the table. Until they dig into it and realize it has Defense 6 with a -/18 Nerve and Lifeleech (1).
Just like the Monolith, it also has a Unit Strength of 1 making it oh-so-predictable to score objectives with, or just leave all your Push tokens on. Simply put, however you need to use this unit, it can provide for you. Many Dust generals don’t leave home without it. There’s simply nothing to dislike in this unit. It has it all and it’s why you’ll find it anchoring most Empire of Dust forces. It makes for an excellent centerpiece and as the Construct of an Old God, it is fitting to command and drive your eternal army of the dead to countless victories on the tabletop!