Hello once more, my friends! Settle in for our last entry in the Thematic Army series until TWW3's launch. Hopefully this can be a fun little distraction while we await the next set of reveals that is likely coming out next week.
These builds are designed to be themed around the Legendary Lord's bonuses, gameplay, overall roster utilization (between all LL's in a faction), background lore, location, and starting units, in that order. The entire point of these builds is to force, by means of fun themes, myself and perhaps others to utilize units in their campaigns that they may otherwise not use.
The Tomb Kings have some units that are not buffed by any Legendary Lords, but are
buffed by the Dynastic Lords that you unlock via technology. I have chosen to ignore these secondary lords' buffs and have just allocated units between the LL's in my typical fashion. I always have additional thematic gameplay beyond just the army composition for my faction leader, and I'm sure many of you do as well. I just can't talk about all of that in these posts or they'd be far too long. So, with that said, let's get to it:
1) Settra the Imperishable
Settra on Chariot of the Gods, melee focus
Liche Priest (Death) on Skeletal Steed*
Necrotect on Skeleton Chariot
Tomb Prince on Skeletal Steed
The Khepra Guard
Tomb Guard x2
Tomb Guard (Halberds) x3
Skeleton Chariots x3
Skeleton Archer Chariots x3
Bone Giant x2
Khemrian Warshpinx x2
*Switched lore from Light to Death
Playing as Settra is actually the catalyst that inspired me to start playing with thematic builds. I was not a fan of chariot gameplay, but I knew he was the chariot guy, and I decided to expand my playstyle. I went a little too
heavy with the chariots to be honest, but the fact remains that it made me a better player and ultimately led to these posts, so I guess he can add an accolade to his list of titles.
Anyway, for the official build, I've given Settra enough chariot units to check the box but not so many that the micro becomes unmanageable. Luckily, this build doesn't have a back line to defend, so you can focus more on cycle charging. He buffs Tomb Guard the most and is the main faction leader, so those units are his. You can actually get three total units of Khepra Guard, but they are not shielded, so be wary of this. Settra receives increased replenishment for Tomb Guard, so the regeneration of the Khepra Guard is slightly less useful than it is with other lords. Settra has a Khemrian Warsphinx as a mount option, and while I ultimately have him on his unique chariot, it felt appropriate to have a couple of them in his army. He starts with one, and you can justify the second as the mount that he didn't take. The Bone Giants are not buffed by any Lord, so they're a free allotment. I chose Settra to receive them to grant more anti-large and ranged capabilities to the army, as it is otherwise anti-infantry primarily.
There are a lot of characters in this army, but it sort of makes sense for someone as vain as Settra to have a retinue of supplicants. I gave him a Death caster to include all of the lores available to the Tomb Kings. The Necrotect is actually in every LL's army. Nobody buffs Necrotects, but all the LL's have constructs. It only makes sense to include the Necrotect, who in this case is on a chariot because he's with Settra. The Tomb Prince is on a Skeletal Steed rather than a chariot because this way he retains the anti-large property, adding some utility to the army (it doesn't need any more anti-infantry).
2) Grand Hierophant Khatep
Khatep on Casket of Souls
Necrotect on foot
Tomb Prince on foot
Skeleton Warriors x2
King Nekhesh's Scorpion Legion
Tomb Scorpion x2*
Chosen of the Gods
Ushabti (Great Bow) x3
Screaming Skull Catapult x2
made a great argument for putting the Tomb Scorpions with Khatep.
Khatep, though mounted on a Casket of Souls, does not buff them. Arkhan does. I was advised in my Vampire Coast post to not worry so much about matching mounts to units, and this is further proof that such advice is sound. However, Khatep still has an artillery vibe, so I gave him the Screaming Skull Catapults, which aren't buffed by anybody and were therefore available. Khatep has the lowest-tier infantry, but he provides physical resistance and leadership bonuses to all infantry, so he achieves the most with them. I have, however, given him the monstrous infantry to balance the scales somewhat.
Khatep is the only LL to buff Ushabti and cavalry, but I felt that I couldn't include both without cluttering the army. I valued Ushabti more highly than cavalry for Khatep, and gave the cavalry to Arkhan instead.
The Hierotitans go to Khatep for starting with one. The Necrotect is a given, but on foot because a single chariot unit didn't feel right. The Tomb Prince is similarly on foot, but this is more due to the fact that this army composition is more defensive and doesn't require great mobility to keep the backline safe.
3) High Queen Khalida
Khalida on Necroserpent
Liche Priest (Light) on Skeletal Steed*
Necrotect on Skeleton Chariot
Usirian's Legion of the Netherworld
Nehekara Warriors x3
Blessed Legion of Phakth
Skeleton Archers x4
Eyes of the Desert
Sepulchral Stalkers x2
Venom Knights of Asaph
Necropolis Knights x2
Necropolis Knights (Halberds) x2
*Switched lore from Death to Light as a nod to Khalida's hatred for vampires, and to utilize all of the lores.
Khalida's army builds itself more so than the other Tomb King LL's. Apart from the characters and infantry, she has a unique buff for every unit in her army. She buffs archers particularly well, which is why they are 1/4 of her build. Rather than explain unit by unit, I'll just list the buffs: Increased missile strength and ammo for Skeleton Archers and Sepulchral Stalkers, increased melee defense and attack for Sepulchral Stalkers and Necropolis Knights. Simple, but good.
There are lots of constructs here, hence the Necrotect. It's on a chariot because it has to keep up with the units that it's there to buff. Here are my justifications for the Nehekara Warriors: a) Process of elimination - Settra gets the Tomb Guard, Arkhan has his unique infantry, and Khatep is too far away from Nehekara to have "Nehekara Warriors". b) The goal with Khalida's army is to have ranged superiority, ideally having the enemy army come to you. If that is the case, then you can field a ranged front and the melee lacking shields isn't such a big deal. If the enemy has artillery that forces you to advance instead, then shields don't do anything for you anyway.
4) Arkhan the Black
Arkhan on foot
Liche Priest (Shadows) on Skeletal Steed
Necrotect on Skeleton Chariot
Crypt Ghouls x4
Storm Riders of Khsar
Skeleton Horse Archers x2
The Flock of Djaf
The Sphinx of Usekph
Casket of Souls x2
Arkhan is on foot because he doesn't have a unique mount and that's ok. I personally don't mind foot lords. The Shadows caster seemed most appropriate for Arkhan, and the Necrotect again is a given when there are constructs. Arkhan has access to a few Vampire Counts units: Fell Bats, Dire Wolves, Crypt Ghouls, and Hexwraiths, and that is in the order of how useful they are. The former two are early-game units that will be phased out of your main army. The Crypt Ghouls and Hexwraiths have to be included to adhere to Arkhan's schtick, but as I said before, I also gave the regular Tomb King cavalry to him as well. It increases the amount of micro, but Arkhan's start isn't for beginners anyway. I don't think that anyone would disagree that the Tomb Scorpions fit Arkhan's aesthetic nicely, but as for the Necrosphinx, all I can say is this: once more, none of the LL's buff these units. It's strange how many units in the TK roster are only buffed by redline skills. The Carrion give the army some air units, which for me really helps blend the TK and VC army build style. I also gave Arkhan the anti-large single entities. They'll be useful when fighting the errant Bretonnians or the other TK factions. Lastly, the Caskets of Souls go to Arkhan because he increases their missile strength, which you may note is one of their two most important stats. Nobody else boasts even half as much, so to Arkhan go the spoils.
Tell me what you think! I don't know how many of you revisit these posts after the initial read, but I have made edits to them after reading your responses every single time, I believe. I really do value your input, but make sure that you give me a reason! I have no problem making a change if a solid argument is brought forth, and I frequently find myself enjoying the change much more, because I have the satisfaction of knowing that it's increasing the thematic quality of the build rather than just allocating leftover units.
Wood Elves https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/288448/my-take-on-thematic-army-compositions-wood-elves
Dark Elves https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/293037/my-take-on-thematic-army-compositions-dark-elves
High Elves https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/293966/my-take-on-thematic-army-compositions-high-elves
Vampire Coast https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/295947/my-take-on-thematic-army-compositions-vampire-coast
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There are a few interesting things about the Tomb Kings.
Settra for instance was the very first priest king and commanded the founding of the Mortuary Cult (the Liche Priests) in an attempt to become immortal, which obviously didn't quite work. Most of their knowledge and skills (such as immortality, more or less) however were obtained long after his passing. Constructs - at the very least Ushabti - and the Casket of Souls are to be counted among those.
After his return to unlife, the Imperishable pretty much despises the Cult due to messing up their task of restoring him to glorious immortality. So imho Tomb Guard (royal guard in proper life) and Chariots (weapons of royalty and nobility) are the right way to go for him. Him using his old force from back in the day (as all TK do) could be used as a pretext for only fielding undead humans and no constructs as those are tied to the Liches who came long after him. The last part however would be a really bad decision as they are pretty much the only good stuff in the roster. With the Necrolith Collosus (mistakenly called Bone Giant in Total War, that's from 7th edition iirc, attached to very different lore) and War Sphinx not being tied to anything in particular, they indeed are the best option I guess, particularly as the Sphinx is manned by Tomb Guard.
Khalida is the unliving Avatar of Asaph, godess of the Asp. Iirc she got into her particular state of undeath when Nehekhara was still alive, emerging from her tomb in Lybaras' times of need.
Her Times to the Asp godess are all the explanation you need for her poison, serpentine constructs and archers. Those last ones somehow fall under the deities Domain, as the Arrows of Asaph make clear. On TT those were a unique ability of hers, buffing archers.
Necropolis Knights in particular are cool, as those are former Tomb Guards who failed up in life and thus commited honor bound suicide by Necroserpent venom. Those are these snake statues, magically driping the venom from their teeth by the power of Asaph herself. Burried underneath the their means of death the knights now return to battle.
I guess on account of having bows, Ushabti Archers (the spirits of deceased warriors summoned into statues of the gods, first done in Khalida's parents generation to foil Nagash iirc) and "Bone Giants" (grumble) would fit too, given that the souls inhabiting them are probably those of archers and that your list for her lacks artillery.
I'd say that light might be a better lore for her, as she really, really hates vampires and normal undead and that stuff is a lot about exorcism. Also with all that Asaph mumbo jumbo she kinda circumvented q
Plans nthe soul realm.
As the Grand Hierophant of Khemri Khatep is the head honcho of the mortuary cult and thus exiled out of the cities of Nehekhara by Settra. Doomed to wander the desert he helps his fellow Tomb King undead whenever he encounters them in peril. In a post Amazons and Hunter and the Beast world that sounds an awful lot like a horde.
Anyway, whilst Caskets definitely are Mortuary Cult assets (even operated by Lich Priests) more than one per army would be really weird on account of their scarcity and the big guy already has one as "mount". So I really agree with your choice here.
Constructs are another deal though. Although all of them have ties to the priesthood who animate them, it's true for some more than others. Both Hierotitans - fashioned as guides for the kings into the next world - and Tomb Scorpions - made to represent the guardians of the underworld - contain the remains of mortuary priests. In the case of the latter it's the a liche priest deceased due to wounds suffered through violence, as they are immortal even if their flash decays (they weren't raised but awake all the time), and for the latter it's a mummy of one from before they figured out that kind of immortality.
I like your choice to put Ushabti here, as it was the cult who used them against Nagash. Not sure about the Skull Catapult though. I have no idea were it actually fits best but I don't think large amounts of arty (3 units in this case) are really fitting for the TKs.
Speaking of the Arch Necromancer: When he was both priest of the mortuary cult and king of Khemri, hegemon of Nehekhara, and figured actual eternal youth, Arkhan was his chief lackey. Still, despite being called the Liche King, he never was a priest, but a lesser noble.
Imho that does give him very little ties to the Casket of Souls. Screaming Skull Catapults might work though, as they were part of the combined undead army before their separation into Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts and their dark lore, even if there's nothing affiliating them with the Black in particular. The guys on top are enemy kings mumified alive and forced to watch the warmachines firing their subjects skulls.
Necrosphinxes are great here, as the Liche Priests actually consider them abominations not belonging into the mortal realm and thus buried them in the desert. It's only due to them fearing Settra more than the Constructs that they reawakened those in order to fight a WAAAGH!!! at his command. I don't think that Nagash's bootlicker has the same qualms.
The horse archers a really just desert nomads who fought for the Nehekharans (So Warhammer Nubians/Medjay?). I guess considering both the Black Tower's location outside the Mortis Valley and the Followers of Nagash's starting position that fits geographically.
As usual I hope that helps and is not to wrong. If there are any questions feel free to ask.
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1) I would like to use all of the magic lores available to the TK between the different LL's, and Khatep himself wields the lore of Nehekara. So, between Light, Death, and Shadows, what fits best with who? You've recommended Light for Khalida, but will that leave Death and Shadows with poor allocations? I feel like either could go to Arkhan, I'm just not sure about Settra. If I do have to double down with a lore and exclude one, that's ok, it's just not my preference.
2) You indicated that Tomb Scorpions would work well for Khatep, and you've provided a fantastic reason for that. I can take them from Arkhan's build - but should I? Is there any connection between Arkhan and Tomb Scorpions?
3) Why would you say that artillery doesn't fit the TK? Three artillery units in a Dwarf army would be "average", I'd say. I would be ok with putting one Casket of Souls and two Screaming Skull Catapults in Arkhan's army and only having the one Casket via Khatep's mount in the other army, thus having only one LL with any actually artillery. I'm interested in hearing your reasoning.
4) It's great to hear that my Necrosphinx decision is validated, and I really like the background justification for the horsemen as well. I'm now looking at it sort of like Sauron and the Easterlings. You did specify "archers", though. Does the same hold true for the melee cavalry?
After you have a chance to respond to those, I will make the edits to the list. I already know of some changes that I'll make based off what you've said, but with those questions answered, I'll be ready to finish up the builds I think.
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I made a case for Khalida using light due to it being mostly anti-undead (not in TW though, a lore being specifically stronger against certain factions would ruin balance I guess) but one for Settra could be made to. As priest king he's actually also a priest (even high priest?) of Ptra.
2) There really isn't anything explicitly connecting Arkhan and Tomb Scorpions beyond creepy looks I know of. Others might shed more light on it.
I mean Nagash was Grand Hierophant of Khemri iirc, but that's it to my knowledge.
3) Yeah, that's just personal preference. Just to my sensibilities one unit in a TK army seems about right, with no particular reason though. Maybe it's that they were rare on the TT and thus couldn't make up more than 25% of your army's cost, together with the bigger constructs.
If you did something like Necrolith Collosus for Khalida, Khatep's mount for him, Skull Catapult for Arkhan and Casket for Settra (that last one would be weird... So swapping with Arkhan might be the right thing) everyone could get one.
4) I'm not 100% sure, but iirc the melee riders were Nehekharans and the archer ones subjugated nomads.
Maybe that's a good place to mention that Nehekhara Warriors and Horsemen are totally made up by CA, with barely any flavor text explaining their place in the lore and what distinguishes them from the lower tiers. In 8th edition there were just Skeleton Warriors, Tomb Guard and Horsemen with no mid tier melee options in their categories. CA apparently just felt the need for a bit better cav and a in between infantry option.
But then again TK's were notoriously underpowered in 8th edition. Part of that's down to having to name a Nehekhara caster in your army hierophant and thus being forced to include such a guy though. If the Hierophant died your entire army started to crumble. It was similar for the vampires with their general but a Vampire Count is much harder to kill than a Liche Priest.
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