Night Lords Review: Warlord Traits & Artefacts

Hello everyone, Danny here from TFG Radio to once more to go into detail about Night Lords and trying to make the most awesome literary-themed Primarch’s children do some work. Of course, if you don’t want to play 40K on hardmode, check out Frontline’s ever-expanding Tactics Corner!nightlordassaultmarine

So last time, I went over the special rules and detachment benefits for Night Lords, and today I am going to dig deep into their warlord traits and artefacts. As my usual bonus, we’ll take a look at a few list ideas that maybe, just maybe, give Night Lords some moves on the tabletop.

Warlord Traits:

  • One Piece at a Time: Warlord gains Hit & Run.
  • Murderous Reputation: Warlord and unit can reroll any 1s to wound in the assault phase.
  • Bitter Hatred: Warlord gains Hatred.
  • One With the Shadows: Your Warlord can re-roll failed cover saves.
  • Dirty Fighter: Warlord and unit gain Hammer of Wrath. If he/they already have it, they get to reroll wounds for their Hammer of Wrath attacks.
  • Killing Fury: Warlord gains Rampage.

Why can’t they have better Warlord Traits?

Ok, so there isn’t a lot great in here. There are two that I really like, namely Hit&Run for some counter-moves, which never, ever hurts. I also like re-rolling failed cover saves as suddenly, a Lord on a bike can be almost like a Black Knight. Almost. Dirty Fighter isn’t terrible as being able to do Strength 4 attacks at initiative 10 can help thin out squishy but high initiative units like Eldar, and since Bike squads are all the rage, getting to reroll to wound on those Strength 4 attacks is good. Rampage is ok, I suppose, but Night Lords characters lack the sheer kill output of say World Eaters where that might matter more. Hatred is pretty meh as is the re-roll 1s to wound in combat.

So yah, maybe rolling on strategic is just a better choice unless you are really fishing for re-roll cover saves or Hit&Run, and well, that’s not great odds.



  • Scourging Chains: Warlord gains Shred in melee.
  • Claws of the Black Hunt: Strength +1, AP 3, lightning claws with Master-Crafted and Rending. Replace all melee and ranged weapons.
  • Talons of the Night Terror: Strength User, Ap5, Shred claws that generate an addition D3 attacks (or D6 attacks on the charge).
  • Vox Daemonicus: Enemy units within 6” of the bearer are -1 Leadership. Also, opponent suffers -1 to reserves whilst bearer is on the battlefield.
  • Curze’s Orb: Bearer can reroll 1s for Runs, to Hit, and To Wound.
  • Stormbolt Plate: 2+ armor save and +1 cover save.

Ok, so the artefacts here are much better than the Warlord traits, thankfully, and while there are a few duds, there is some useful Tek in here. The first and most obvious is the Vox Daemonicus. The -1 LD isn’t all that important as it is so short-ranged (although it could come in handy), but -1 to reserve rolls is big as the Night Lords are relatively resilient to the 1st turn Alpha Strike, so any null deploy army has to deal with the Night Lords at their strongest and then have the rest of their force come in piece meal. This is amazing, and if you are taking Night Lords, you should have a good reason why you aren’t taking this. I also like the Stormbolt Plate as it gives you a rather resilient lord who can hop on a bike for T5, a 2+ save, and as a Night Lord, a 2+ cover save from Jinking. Not too bad at all. There’s no limit on who can take it either, so you could have a Daemon Prince with a 2+ save and a 2+ jink, and of course, add in Tzeentch, and well, you have all the rerolls now. Not entirely terrible. Yes, Hunter’s Eye Centurions still wreck either of these, but there are very few things in this game that they don’t.

I’m relatively neutral on any of the others. Curze’s Orb is ok for essentially preferred enemy (all), and the Claws of the Black Hunt aren’t bad for S5, Master-Crafted, and Rending (But so expensive!), but then they aren’t all that great either. Talons of the Night Terror really works best with a Daemon Prince as the additional D3 attacks (or D6) plus Shred on a S6 model that makes the claws AP2 isn’t too bad at all. That gives you a nice little blender that doesn’t have the chance to hurt itself like other daemon weapons.

The Scourging Chains is also a bit weird as 10 points for Shred in melee isn’t a terrible deal, but it’s not great either. Perhaps again on a dirt cheap Daemon Prince for S6 shred, but eh, seems like a waste. I suppose if you really want a double-lightning claw Lord and save 5 points, you could do this and a Power Sword.

So with all this in mind, let’s see what weird lists I can create with Night Lords being the main star (or at least there).


1 Claw, 2 Claws

Detachment: Murder Talon

Core: Warband

  • Chaos Lord. Bike. Sigil of Corruption. Vox Daemonicus. Powerfist.
  • 5x CSM. Flamer.
  • 5x CSM.
  • 5x Chosen.
  • 8x Chaos Bikers. 2x Meltaguns
  • 5x Havocs. 4x Autocannons
  • Core: Raptor Talon
  • Chaos Lord. Jump Pack (Free). Claws of the Black Hunt.
  • 5x Raptors
  • 5x Raptors
  • 5x Raptors

Auxiliary: Heldrake Terror Pack

  • Heldrake. Bale Flamer
  • Heldrake. Bale Flamer

Auxiliary: Terminator Annihilation Force

  • Chaos Lord. Terminator Armor (free). Combi-melta
  • 3x Chaos Terminators. 3x Combi-melta
  • 3x Chaos Terminators. 3x Combi-melta
  • 3x Chaos Terminators. 3x Combi-melta

So this list is all about turn 2 massed drop. The naked CSM and Chosen squads exist to sit in cover and try not to die, hopefully camping an objective. The Lord with the Vox hides in the Biker unit and again tries to survive to ensure that your opponent has the -1 to reserves, and he’ll roll on Strategic to try and get a further -1 as well.

From turn 2 on, you have the Heldrakes, 3 units of terminators, and 3 units of raptors dropping in, and the whole point is to overwhelm your opponent and hopefully destroy any of their units that come in piece by piece. This is definitely a null deploy army, and it likes other null deploys to be able to react to them and hopefully slow their reserves down, so you can pick everything apart. Of course, it is just as vulnerable to any reserve manipulation, but with 8 units that come in from Turn 2 on and can land at least one decent hit before death, this army can surprise a lot of builds, and of course, against Death stars, it has so many units that can appear almost anywhere that you can overwhelm the mission and try to eek out a win that way.

The raptors are there to take out small, objective camping units like Scatbikes, a single Crisis-Suit, or Scouts.  The Terminators typically want to use their formation rule to target a larger unit that needs more hits on it than anything else while using their combi-meltas on armor.  As always, Heldrakes do what Heldrakes do, and that’s Burninate the Countryside.


Yes, I love these.

Dreadclaws away!

Detachment 1: Murder Talon

Core: Warband

  • Chaos Lord. Bike. Sigil of Corruption. Stormbolt Plate. Powerfist. Lightning Claw.
  • 5x CSM. Flamer. Dreadclaw.
  • 5x CSM. Flamer. Dreadclaw.
  • 5x Chosen. 4x Melta. Dreadclaw.
  • 5x Chosen. 4x Melta. Dreadclaw.
  • 10x Bikers.
  • 5x Havocs. 4x Autocannons

Auxiliary: Spawn

  • 1x Spawn

Detachment 2: Cyclopia Cabal.

  • Sorcerer. Bike. Spell familiar. Power Axe. LvL 2.
  • Sorcerer. Bike. Spell familiar. Power Axe. LvL 2.
  • Sorcerer. Bike. Spell familiar. Power Axe. LvL 2.
  • Sorcerer. Bike. Spell familiar. Power Axe. LvL 2.

So this list is all about having two distinct threats that have to be handled differently. The first and obvious is the Bike-Star with the Cabal and the tanky Night Lord character that has the 2+ armor save and a native 2+ jink save. He would probably roll on the Night Lords Warlord trait for either reroll cover saves, Hit & Run, or reroll 1s to wound for him and unit in assault. The Cabal goes with him and the Bikes and rolls for Invisibility, Endurance, or reroll saves. Chasing the right powers is key, so I’d probably go with Telepathy first, then Biomancy, and then whatever else feels appropriate. Either way, this is not an easy unit to fight by any means, and while another dedicated Deathstar will likely beat it, this list is not just designed around the Deathstar.

The other distinct threat (that has to be fought totally differently) is the 4 Obsec flyers with their 4 Obsec units inside. 2 Dreadclaws arrive turn 1 and heat blast something while the others will show up whenever. The key here is that you have 4 highly mobile Obsec threats to play the mission, so if your opponent focuses too much on the Bike-star, they may find themselves losing the mission while if they scatter to hold or contest objectives, your Bike-star can bully the center of the board and start chewing through units.

Is this a great Night Lords army? No, but it is a good one. Any Traitor Legion can mostly run this list. Does it gain anything from being Night Lords? Not entirely as Death Guard could arguably do this better as could World Eaters. The one nice benefit is that the Obsec grabbers have stealth for a little more resilience and the Deathstar jinks to a 2+ cover save on the first turn with Stealth and the Detachment bonus for automatic Night Fighting. Again, drop-Grav with Hunter’s Eye that goes first sucks, so you may have to reserve the Bikes if that’s the case.


Daemon Prince Rush

Detachment 1: Murder Talon

Core: Raptor Talon

  • Chaos Lord. Jump Pack (Free). Claws of the Black Hunt.
  • 5x Raptors
  • 5x Raptors
  • 5x Raptors

Auxiliary: Spawn

  • 1x Spawn

Lord of the Legion:

  • Daemon Prince. Talons of the Night Terror. Wings.

Lord of the Legion:

  • Daemon Prince. Stormbolt Plate. Wings. MoT. Level 1.

Detachment 2: Infernal Tetrad

  • Daemon Prince of Khorne. Wings. Armor.
  • Daemon Prince of Tzeentch. Wings. Level 3. (Warlord)
  • Daemon Prince of Nurgle. Wings. Level 2.
  • Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. Wings. Level 1.

Ok, so this list is more for fun than anything else, but there is a small method to its madness. The general idea is to just overload your opponent with FMCs, 3 of them being able to cast (and as much as they can on Malefic to summon in reinforcements). The Night Lords Daemon Princes are the front line with both having Stealth and Detachment bonus to Night Fighting in effect, and the one with Stormbolt Plate has a 2+ jink at all times with rerolls. The other with Talons has no armor save, so he is pretty safe from Grav, and yes, the Stormbolt Plate will get picked up pretty easy by Hunter’s Eye, but in games where that is not a factor, that Prince is pretty damn resilient. They charge up the board and use their protection on the first turn to wait for the Tetrad to Deepstrike or fly in, and then the summoning begins with hopefully some combat as the Raptors drop in to lock up shooting units or get in the way.

Is this an amazing list? No. It is primarily Night Lords? Not even. Why did I write it? I think it is a bit funny, and the guaranteed Night Fighting and the Stealth for all VotLW is an interesting combination that I think lends itself well to a small, compact starting presence on the board followed up by several waves of punch.

So there you go all. I did my best. I tried to look at the bright side. Was I successful? I don’t know. Will I maybe try to run any of these lists. Yes, I think so. So tell us your thoughts and experiences with Night Lords. Did you polish that turd to a brilliant shine? And of course, feel free to check out TFG Radio for more strange lists and the rambling adventures of the LVO 40K head-judge team.

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About Danny Ruiz

Long-long time 40K player, one of the original triumvirate of head 40K judges at LVO, writer, educator, tyranid-enthusiast, disciple of Angron, man about town, afflicted with faction ADD.

8 Responses to “Night Lords Review: Warlord Traits & Artefacts”

  1. Chandler December 23, 2016 6:42 am #

    Nice write up! I have always loved Night Lords. I think they are an army that probably looks worse on paper than they will actually play out. Some of those relics are really good. I think kitting out the lord right as you have can make Raptor Talon pretty nasty. One combo I think is nice is the Vox Daemonicus combined with the Heldrake Terror pack and a jump pack Sorc casting Shriek on a strong enemy unit.

    • Danny Ruiz December 23, 2016 9:40 am #

      Absolutely. NL are all about leadership tricks, and I think a Tzeentch DP with Stormbolt Plate shrieking while handing out Invis to a small bike-star is going to be competitive. I do like using raptors as a Vox delivery system, and still, a chaos lord charging from reserve (with rerolls to charge) is not a bad thing at all.

  2. beau December 23, 2016 8:30 am #

    Yeah I am pretty sure NL are going to be all about having well equipped characters get psychic buffs and make them do work. You are pretty much guaranteed to survive t1 for the most part except against Tau. Get those buffs rolling.

    • Danny Ruiz December 23, 2016 9:42 am #

      Yes, I totally agree. While NLs are not super psykers in the fluff, they are definitely one of the Traitor Legions that really want to use psykers. And even against Tau, they still have to land those Markerlight shots, and depending on army build, you can keep your best units in the back and out of range and then have Heldrakes or Raptors drop in on 2 and start making the Tau player have to make some tough decisions.

      • Freeman December 24, 2016 5:49 am #

        I’m justifying going psychic heavy ‘cos the three most famous Night Lords are all psychers:


  3. Ytook December 23, 2016 10:28 am #

    Imagine if fear wasn’t widely ignorable, and was +1 for your unit to hit in combat and -1 for the enemy on a failed test. Ah well, wishing is fun 😛

    • ChosenOfKhorne December 24, 2016 11:05 am #

      Hopefully 8th edition will address the futility of fear and other Morale based mechanics. ATSKNF needs to be at the top of the list. Ignores too many core rules of the game for basically no point cost.

      I imagine AoS battleshock will be coming to 40k to mitigate the lack of impact on losing assault fearless and the like benefit from currently. They used to take extra wounds in exchange for never being swept, and that would be a good change.

      Fear needs to be renamed to terror or the like, so it can be separated from other benefits of ATSKNF and fearless. Hard to call a unit fearless or ATSKNF, yet allow it to suffer from fear….

  4. Painjunky December 27, 2016 3:59 am #

    Thanks for the write up.
    The vox is quite situational and therefore not good. I see you only included it in 1 of the 3 lists.
    Null deploy armies are in the minority, most armies tend to have few if any reserves.

    Agree with most everything else. Until fear is a thing NL will not be.

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