Sunday 12 August 2012

Undead Army

Now that I'm nearing completion of my first skeleton unit I thought it was time to sit down and work out a small Undead army that I can aim to paint over the next couple of months.  A couple of hours working through the WFB 3rd edition rule book and Warhammer Armies book has resulted in my first Oldhammer army list.

The only compulsory troops I have to take are 20 Skeleton Warriors and 10 Grim Reapers.  This didn't cause me any problems as my vision for the army was a horde of skeletal warriors sweeping all before them.  This type of horde army appeals to me as I used to collect the more expensive armies (Elves and Dwarfs) and had decided on an Undead army just before I stopped gaming.  The artwork by John Blanche (below) is really what inspired me to want to collect this army many year ago, I still love this painting:

I already have a couple of Skeleton Army boxed sets along with a number of assembled models, I'll be adding metal command figures to these units as and when I can get them on ebay for reasonable prices.  I can't believe how much these boxed sets go for nowadays, they cost me £10 back in the day and now seem to go for £50+ if they are complete and unused:

Army Selection

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the strategy that I would need to employ in order to maximise the Undead's unique abilities.  Looking at the 'stat lines' reveals that most undead are pretty useless in combat, so a prolonged slugging match in the middle of the table would quickly leave me commanding a pile of bones.

However, on the plus side, Undead armies are virtually immune to psychological effects ( I guess if you're dead then you're not too concerned about dying) and, more importantly, they cause fear in their opponents.  This requires enemy regiments to pass a cool test in order to charge or fire missiles at my troops.  Also, enemy units that are charged by Undead must pass a cool test or rout immediately (that sweeping vision is coming back loud and clear).

Taking all this into account, my initial target is to have the following army fully painted by Halloween.


Given that Undead suffer from Instability, I want to include a strong set of characters to enhance and support the rank and file.  The army lists allow half of the total army points to be spent on characters with a minimum requirement of 1 Necromancer, Vampire or Liche.  Again this isn't a problem as I intended to include a couple of Necromancers to support and augment the abilities of the basic rank and file anyway.  I also plan to include a character model in every regiment (where allowed) to add hitting power in combat and help minimise the effects of instability.

Undead Heroes are quite expensive as magical weapons are compulsory for any Champion who is level 10 or above.  However, they do add some much needed combat punch to the rank and file so I chose a couple of well equipped Heroes to lead the units that I expect to be in the thick of the fighting.

I'm hoping that all these points spent on characters will help prevent the army falling apart with the demise of some of its Characters:

Magister Mortis (Level 20 Wizard) Hand Weapon and Undead Horse 250 points.

1 x Corpse Knight (Level 20 Hero) Galvorn Armour, Shield, Undead Horse and Magic Weapon with the Trance ability @ 219 points.

1 x Tomb Terror (Lvl 15 Hero) Galvorn Armour, shield and Sword with the Hellhoned Blade and Parasitic Blade magical abilities 195 points.

1 x Grave Fiend (Lvl 10 Hero) with Heavy Armour and a Scythe with the Enchanted Strike magical ability 95 points.

1 x Charnel Warrior (Lvl 5 Hero) with Light Armour, Shield and Hand Weapon 33 points.

1 x Charnel Warrior (Lvl 5 Hero) with Light Armour, Shield and Hand Weapon 33 points.

Character Total Points =  825 Points.

Rank and File

The core of my army will be the compulsory Skeletal Warriors and Grim Reapers formed into two large units with the aim of destroying enemy units with sheer weight of numbers.  Even Dwarves and Elves have to rout if pushed back in combat by skeletons!!

My first unit is a large block of 30 Skeleton Warriors arranged in five ranks of six figures with a full command of standard and musician to provide a huge +4 bonus in combat.  This unit will be led by the Tomb Terror equipped with Galvorn Armour, this keeps their basic movement at 4 as I want this unit to get into combat as quickly as possible.

In order to support this regiment I've included two smaller units of 24 models each, one of them will be the other compulsory unit of Grim Reapers with full command led by the Grave Fiend.  The other unit will be Skeleton Warriors led by the Charnel Warrior.

Skeleton Archers are pretty ineffective due to their low Ballistic Skill, however, I have included a small unit of 10 archers to provide some cover for these units as they advance into combat.

Brraaaiinnnssss!!! Zombies - I'll look to include a couple of large units of these in the future, probably, using a combination of the old metal models with some of the newer plastics thrown in.  I'd love to use just metal, but, the costs of these things on ebay would require me to take out another mortgage.

Death Riders are a must as far as I'm concerned.  Their ability to move through obstacles without penalty makes them perfect for my tactics (think 'sweeping'). I'll be including a couple of units of these led by Characters.  Their role will be to 'sweep' down the flanks and hit enemy units in the rear or flanks once my main battle line is engaged.  I'll also put the Necromancer into one of these units to give him maximum flexibility and to protect him from enemy missile fire.  The other unit will be led by the Corpse Knight.

Finally, there are the exotic troops such as Carrion, Skull Chuckers, Chariots  and the Plague Cart.  I haven't included any of these in the initial army list but will add them once I have a better understanding of the initial armies performance.

So the Rank and File for the initial units look like this:

29 Skeleton Warriors with Hand Weapons, Shields, Musician and Standard Bearer @ 341 points.
23 Skeleton Warriors with Hand Weapon, Light Armour, Shield, Musician and Standard Bearer @ 325 points.
23 Grim Reapers with Scythe, Light Armour, Musician and Standard Bearer @ 350 points.
10 Skeleton Archers with Hand Weapon and Bow @ 120 points.
9 Death Riders with Hand Weapon , Lance and Shield @ 207 points.
9 Death Riders with Hand Weapon, Light Armour and Shield @ 207 points.

Total Rank & File =  1550 Points.

Army Total = 2375 Points.

Apart from the metal command figures, I have all the figures (103 rank and file) I need for these units so will focus on getting these complete over the next couple of months.  I've started using a points system for my painting (based on the one that Phil Olley uses) which equates to 1 point per figure with cavalry counting as 2 figures.  Given that I have 100+ figures to paint then I will be aiming at 15 points per week so that the initial units plus their command figures can be done in time for Halloween (quite fitting don't you think).

I'll post regular updates, pictures and any lessons learned from painting these units over the coming months.

Appreciate any comments, tips, advice on this army.


  1. Sounds good! Don't forget you will need a few more skeletons for summoning skeletal horde :)

  2. What no Zombie Dragon?! ;)

    That little lot is going to look very impressive sweeping across the table.

  3. You haven't discussed what spells you intend to empower Magister Mortis with. Necromantic, obviously, with a few battle magic spells thrown in? Otherwise interesting stuff. Remember that Warhammer Armies was really just a guide to 'tournament' gaming in the mid 80s - IE you don't have a GM. For smaller forces it was always suggested that you halved the compulsory choices while for narrative games (with or without a GM) you ignore the compulsory choices entirely.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. I have a couple of skeleton command models which I'm happy to send to you in return for the models you sent me a couple of months ago. Drop me a line with your address and I'll pop them in the post.

  5. Hello, your blog is excellent !

    I like it very well. Sorry for my bad english... I am french.

    We have the same hobby. My blog :

  6. Hi Peter. Some of us are starting up a Yorkshire Oldhammer cell over at the BLOOD forum and I noticed that Skarsnik's opponent finder has you listed as living in Harrogate. Would you be interested in meeting up for some old school gaming? There are four of us so far. Have a look at this thread:

    you can also email me at if you want more details.

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