This week I was feeling spooky, and brought out the competitively struggling Nighthaunt. Which of their units proved to be great, and which were just scary bad…
I have always enjoyed various flavors of undead armies in games, so my thirst was palpable when Games Workshop unveiled (no pun intended) the Nighthaunt. Like many I bought in big, and almost instantly discovered an army with some great concepts and abilities, that no less struggled competitively. Many of its units found much more play as a part of Nagash’s forces of undead due to a… quirky FAQ which essentially made the best third of the Nighthaunt better… when not actually a part of their native army.
Legion of Grief, an ad-libbed half measure to help the ailing Nighthaunt, essentially made the relationship reciprocal, which has somewhat helped, but the disparity between their best and worst options in any iteration is one of the most jarring in all of AoS.
Over-Performer: Grimghast Reapers
Before stating the obvious let me add that a VERY honorable mention goes to the Dreadblade Harrow, a high finesse unit which can absolutely win games, and which is a staple of good players, playing to the scenario. Don’t leave home without one!
The very best of the Nighthaunt has been clear since day one, with this absolute staple unit leading to some incredibly potent, highly competitive, Legions of Nagash lists, for a time. The Grimghast, are surprisingly killy, and powerfully durable, in the right lists.
With a 4+ Ethereal save, Grimghast are a frustrating unit to chew through, as is. But a capable player will always be fielding these alongside recursion, heroes or army mechanics which return lost models. It is that combination which makes them incredibly well priced. As we describe often in these articles, how receptive a unit is to buffs often adds value far in excess of their warscroll. A humble, and always valuable Necromancer (whether allied or native), makes this unit offensively devastating on sheer volume of dice, coupled with Van Hels.
The unit can also fulfill a lot of excellent functions, as it is extremely versatile. With a speedy move value of 8”, they can do some objective grabbing, or serve as solid flankers, even unsupported, against a poorly defended side. Likewise, their 2” reach, rend, and likely self-provided re-rolling of hits, can make them an absolute blender.
Truly a complete unit, this unit has survived nerfs to still be absolutely incredible. While the army around them might disappoint you, these ghosties never will.
This one is hard for me, and admittedly is a touch controversial. When I prepare these articles, a lot of what happens is taking a unit’s raw potential and then attempting to translate it to real-life, through play. The Hexwraith is a unit which is entirely fine, at a glance, but whose failings come when real game states take over.
To reach its potential for its points a unit needs to be able to use all of its abilities as often as possible. Lost potential is lost efficiency. Requiring an extra 6” of movement to legally measure and place, this unit is much less likely to move over desired units than you might expect. Likewise, cavalry bases, and 1” melee weapons make this a unit clumsy to take in numbers, but largely ineffective at minimum size.
They have some fun possibilities in battalions during casual play, but in an army already struggling to compete, there are just better options for your points, whether as pure Nighthaunt, Legion of Grief, or in Legions of Nagash.
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