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Many people know about using grave guard and tomb kings cavalry to make cheaper black knights or using flagellants to make spirit hosts. I was just curious what other options there are for those of us who are on a budget. I'll list the ones I've heard of/thought of to get the ball rolling:
Vampire/Vampire Lord/Wight King: Empire general box set can be converted to look a bit more undead and gives you two heroes. Plus you'll get lots of extras for your bit box.
Vampire/Necromancer: Same goes with empire wizard box set.
Black Knights: Grave guard and tomb king combination as said before, although if you don't mind using non-skeletal steeds, you can use other cavalry legs/horses. If you were REALLY cheap, you could use skeleton warrior torsos, but they wouldn't look very knightly.
Spirit Hosts: Pretty much any model could represent the spirit of a fallen warrior. I'm thinking of cramming a bunch of spearmen onto a couple bases and painting them all glowy. Another cool option would be floating weapons, like in diablo 2. Just attatch some spare swords to wire and paint them suitably ethereal looking.
Cairne Wraiths: Not sure how good this would look, but one could greenstuff a cloak onto a plastic skeleton and convert his spear into a sickle to get a "cheaper reaper." Any advice on that?
Zombies: The zombie sprue comes with lots of extra heads and hands. Use these to make some zombies coming up out of the ground. For mine I've got sort of a wave effect, with the back row just a head and hands, the next row is from mid-torso or so, then the waist and up, then knees, and then the whole figure. I guess this could work on skeletons, too. Its like getting a free rank!
These ideas all use Games Workshop figs, so I would think they would all be tourney viable.
I quite like the concept of having your ranks of zombies ascending from the ground, although you'd need to take care to make sure the figures were distinctly zombie - having just the top of a zombie head coming from the ground would look a bit, well, cheap... but having the torso and above, then a leg, then standing up/shambling is a nice idea.
I used Empire Cavalry for my Black Knights - I used the empty plate helm on a regular torso and then placed a skeleton head under the riders arm. One Headless Horseman
So far here's what I've got to save you money:
Brettonian Regiment Box gives you
8 "Black Knights"
20 "Grave Gaurd" (men at arms)
3 "Fel Bats" (pegasus riders)
I don't know if it saves you any kind of money, but a used a WoodElf Spellsinger for my Tomb Banshee, and 4 of the old metal Grave Gaurd as Cairn Wraiths. All painted in the 'spirit' white and blues of course.
I also use Grail Knights as Blood-Knights, as my army has a Brettonian theme.
My friend made 2 Blood Dragon heros using the High Elf commander box.
Wraiths can be made from greatswords, executioners, swordmasters or white lions painted up all ethereal so you can get 5 for £12
BEN DIESEL FTW!!!
Well, I replied earlier just as my internet cut out and lost my post!
Love the idea of Bretonian undead. Its like a huge Bretonian army was slaughtered and raised by your army just recently. Really evokes a narrative and probably works into the army's fluff somehow. Plus it is a great way to thumb your nose at Bretonian players!
The imperial black knights sound cool, too. At first, I thought you were saying you were going for an empty-armor look, which would be sweet as all holy hell.
I guess wraiths can be made out of pretty much anything, but I think you loose a bit of the Warhammer feel if you veer too far off the beaten path. Then again, it could work very well if your fluff backs up why they look so different (ie, the wraiths were a coven of high elves that turned to dark magic and eventually got wraith-ified.) For my part, most likely I'll eventually just mod some skellies or grave guard like manicdemise did. Most of my games will be below 2000 points for some time anyways and I plan on making heavy use of my newly finished Varghulf.
And here's the fluff, for the curious reader CLICKY