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Topic says it all. I'm talking armies like Khorne Chaos and Dwarves with a ton of dispel dice. Do TK stand a chance against these armies? What would you do against them?
I've never played a game against one of the mentioned armies but it seems to me you'll want to use units that rely less on your magic to be useful. Fewer blocks of skeletons and more chariots, ushabti, scorpion, etc.
What other ideas/strategies would you folks recommend?
Dwarves are a hard fight but still winnable. A lot of them really don't have obnoxious amounts of DD anymore (especially when they don't know ahead of time who their opponent is going to be). If they DO, it gets harder, but then I'll assume you know you're fighting Dwarves and tailor to them too. Scorpions are ace vs dwarves, as are Tomb Swarms surprisingly. Poison = good. More Chariots and Ushabti might not be the answer you want to choose though, as both are big war machine targets. You'll likely be more successful taking MORE skellingtons and going with the LA/Shield route. Dwarves auto-break when outnumbered by fear causing units just like everyone else and that's what you want to rely on. They flee slowly and are easy to overrun. Combat isn't as hard to win because while dwarves are very tough, they're not overly killy and won't add as much to their CR with wounds.
Hordes of Khorne, in my opinion, are impossible to defeat with TK with all things equal (ie, no major luck swings with dice rolls, opponent isn't a blathering idiot). A heavy Khorne army will always have plenty of DD, and is highly likely to have magic resist. They hit like trucks, and frenzy renders them immune to psychology. And Tomb Kings are the *only* army, literally, that cannot take advantage of frenzy by leading them off. Our fast cav cannot choose to feign flight and we have no ethereal units like the VC. Once again, try to outnumber and win combat but vs Khorne its haaaaaaaard. My brother has a Hordes of Khorne army that he pulls out against me any time he gets mad at me about something and he is undefeated vs me with it, even though I can beat his Brettonians.
Absolutely we stand a fighting chance against these armies. It just takes a change in mindset, gameplay and tactics.
I have a small selection of opponents to play, and we've kind of geared our lists to the small sampling of armies that we usually face (Wood Elves, Orcs, Beastmen, Bretonians and Tomb Kings are really the only forces represented, with me being the TK player). It's not a total tailoring of lists, but there has been certain trends that we recognize, one of them being a higher count of dispel dice/scrolls in my opponents armies.
This has forced me to adapt my army to not rely on magic so much to get the all important flank charge to crush my opponents.
I used to employ a very common tactic of charging skeletons in the front of an enemy, positioning my chariots to the side, and relying on spamming my Quick spells to charge the flank. However, my opponent saw that I'd never get the spell off, and he'd basically have my turn and his next turn to beat up/destroy my skeletons before the chariots could come to bear.
Now, I set my skeleton block at a fierce angle close to the enemies front so if he charges, he has to expose his flank to my chariots. He gets one combat phase to destroy all 25-30 skeletons in the unit before he is smashed in the side by my flankers. If he dawdles or try's to cha-cha around my skeleton unit to avoid the pending charge, my chariots begin to work their way around to allow for a flank charge regardless or even a rear charge.
When I fight like this, I use magic mostly to heal and cast magic missile, or fire a catapult twice, but it's not a necessity to get my fighting units into position to do the damage they need to win combat.
This is just one simple example, but it's how you can alleviate some of your overreliance on magic so you still have a fighting chance vs high magic defense armies.
Indeed, Tomb Kings can win these match-ups (personally am 2-0 vs. Khorne w/ TK and these wins were @ 1500 points). Just adjust your tactics and prepare ahead of time not to get all your magical charges/SSC magic shots off.
First, you will outnumber every unit they field against you save perhaps maraurders. This means that if you manage to beat them in hand-to-hand, they will flee and lose their frenzy. Because you will likely have more units on the field than he does, maneuvering so you can gang bang his units isn't hard, even without magic. You shouldn't need to use magic to do this. This allows you to focus your magic on maneuvering one or two units to get them to charge at the right time. Even a well decked out khorne list won't have more than 6-8 DD. With three priests and the king/prince, that move spell is very likely to go off.
Second, take the casket of souls. With such small units, he really doesn't want that going off, as any losses will cause panic tests. So he will hold 2 dice or more to dispel it. It's a given you will get some magic off with this in play.
This goes along with the first two, but there's no need to charge across the table early. Since he has no (or little) ranged attacks, he will have to engage you in melee where he shines the most. So sit tight and wait for him. This means 2 turns of shooting your SSC, arrows and bolts of magic (not to mention the casket). When he gets within range, charge with a unit of chariots and ushapti or etc. Since he has to come to you, you can almost always charge him with some fast units.
Since he will be able to beat you in melee, you need to stack the combat in your favor. Don't trust your heavy cav to handle that unit of dragon ogres. But a unit of ushapti in the front and some heavy cav to the side will almost guarrantee that you will beat him in combat (+1 for flank, +1 for banner, +1 for outnumbering...). You can beat khorne easy - you have to play more carefully and chose your fights more wisely is all.
Last game, I charged his minos with magic with my chariots and TK. We demonlished them and overan into his warriors. We beat them and they fled too. We overran. Using magic I came around and rear charged his lord + knights. We beat them as well, they held a turn, and my scorpion flanked them. Next turn, we beat them soundly, and they fled. Just some examples of what you can try. I find a lord in a chariot unit is enough to handle any chaos unit, even dragon ogres (this is rather risky but you don't need magic - your opponent will let you charge for free! lol). I got more than half my spells off, too. Even with 7 DD, he just couldn't keep up.
Make sure you have the max number of characters. This is crucial. This army relies on characters more than any other army. Take as a many bound tiems as you can. The Banner of Undying Legion, the Staff of Ravening, etc. These are more items he has to dispel.
If you want any specific advice against a particular list you are fighting, let me know.
"A coward never truly lives....a hero never truly dies..."
The way i look at it you have two options, max on magic, or ignore it.
I prefer the 1st option, but then you hve the rest of their hard hitting army to worry about as it will usually tear you apart in CC.
With the combat option, maxing out on combat characters and troops, you sacrifice a reliable magic phase, but stand a chance at winning where it counts and actually getting kills.