Spooky boys go to the Grand Tournament (Age of Sigmar)

Nagash's every plan ever.

Disclaimer; I enjoy playing Age of Sigmar.

Several years ago when we had a Games Workshop within 10 minutes walking distance, I would be there most weekends usually playing Warhammer: Fantasy. I made several friendships through that store that still persist to this day so even though I rarely get to play as often as I would like I still have fond memories of the game and as such, my gaming group still makes an attempt to go for a weekend away at-least once a year to Warhammer World to participate in an event, hang out and generally have a good time.

This year we decided to attend the Age of Sigmar Grand Tournament Heat 2 for a shot at getting into the grand finals.

As I only get to play once a year I try to bring something new. A year is a decent time to build and paint a new army though somehow we still always end up painting to the last minute. Several years ago I would have been bringing the most overpowered, competitive lists available but as my focus has moved on from trying to get every advantage possible to just having a good time I like to build armies with a clear theme. I do enjoy theory-crafting lists so they are still as good as I feel that I can get them given the parameters I set myself but they do fall short of the finely tuned, top tier lists that everyone seems to be taking these days.

Ever since the updated Spirit Hosts were released at the beginning of End Times, I knew that I wanted to do an army based around them and other ethereal miniatures. With that in mind I decided that this time around I was either going to collect Nighthaunt or Legions of Nagash. Overall I decided on Legions as I always liked the attrition aspect of Vampire Counts back in WH: Fantasy days and units such as Necromancers and Vampire Lords have the ability to bring back models to depleted units. 

Following on from this I wanted to build a list around some basic principals or themes;

  • I wanted the army to capture the never-ending horde aspect of undead.
  • It had to include the amazing Spirit Host sculpts and as much of the new Nighthaunt release as possible (or at least look like all of the miniatures fit with the Nighthaunt theme).
  • I wanted it to play like classic Vampire Counts; A large amount of regenerating troops with many support elements.
  • I like the idea of creeping doom as a theme so if possible I should have abilities that debuffed the opponent as opposed to buffing my own.

A lot of theory-crafting later and the following list emerged (Note that this list was written before the points updates in Generals Handbook 2019);

- Legion of the Sacrament -
- Realm of Light -

General, Bound to the Master, Fading Vigour

Aetherquartz Brooch, Overwhelming Dread

Spectral Grasp

Vampire Lord on foot
Wings, Chalice of Blood, Spirit Gale

Vampire Lord on foot
Wings, Chalice of Blood, Vile Transference

Guardian of Souls

40 Chainwrasp Hordes

30 Grimghast Reapers

5 Dire Wolves

5 Dire Wolves

6 Spirit Hosts

Corpse Cart with Unholy Loadstone

Geminids of Ul-Gysh

Soulsnare Shackles

2 Additional Command Points

Going over each of the components in turn;


One thing that remained constant across all iterations of the list was the three Necromancers and two Vampire Lords. Between them they can heal 12 units worth of D3 wounds or concentrate their healing on three units to bring back up to 5D3 models. Necromancers are also relatively difficult to kill given the 'look out sir' rules and their ability to push wounds onto nearby summonable units.
They are also potent spell-casters in their own right. In addition to their own spell, the lore available to Necromancers is very good at debuffing enemy units and the Vampires can be used for endless spells. From the Lore of the Deathmages, I chose Overwhelming Dread for -1 to hit and bravery, Fading Vigour for to reduce attacks and charge distances, and Spectral Grasp to further slow down enemy units. The Vampires will mainly be casting Soulsnare Shackles to put more pressure on enemy movement and Geminids for more negatives to hit and attacks.

For my final hero I settled on a Guardian of Souls. His spectral lure can also heal D6 worth of wounds to my units and any Nighthaunt within range have boosted attacks in combat.


For the core of the army, the only Nighthaunt elements afforded to me by using a Legions list are Chainwrasp Hordes and Grimghast Reapers. Given that it's easier to focus healing on a small amount of large units instead of several smaller ones, we are taking one maximum sized unit of each.

We also needed more core units to make the list legal so a couple of small units of dire wolves fit the bill as a light flanking force good for taking far away objectives.

I'm not a great fan of the standard dire wolf models. Here I used the horses from the Dreadblade Harrow kit with the holes filled in (And a little nod to the Nightmare Before Christmas for the Doom Wolf)

Rounding this out with a decent sized unit of Spirit Hosts to force mortal wounds onto problem units such as large monsters and the core of the army was taking shape. We have a large, heal-able anvil, the mega-hammer in the form of the Reapers, fast flanking units and a durable utility unit.

Definitely the MVP of the list. Spirit Hosts are tough with their 3 wounds and 4+ un-modifiable save and put out a surprising amount of mortal wounds in combat despite their 1" range.

Support Elements

I settled on a Corpse Cart with Unholy Loadstone not only because it is a relatively cheap addition to the army but also because it fulfills the objectives of making my magic better (and stacking with the Legion of Sacrament buff for a healthy +2 to cast on anyone in range) and boosting the healing on my units by granting re-rolls to the endless minion saves on any units in range. It seems to be a rarely used in other lists unit but I am happy with the way it performed - Most games it went untouched due to the much bigger threats on the field.

As with the Dire Wolves, I wanted a more themed Corpse Cart so I converted this using parts from the standard kit, Mortis Engine, and mounted Knight of Shrouds.

So how did it do then?

I played the army in a very straightforward way; The two blocks of infantry taking a central position on the table with the Necromancers and Corpse Cart within 6" of both of them so that they can heal effectively. The Guardian of Souls and Vampires, due to their increased healing range generally had more flexibility, escorting the Spirit Hosts to make sure that they could be kept alive whilst fighting large monsters such as Bloodthirsters and Terrorghiests. The idea was to grab and hold onto objectives and force my opponents' to come to me where the considerable magic could be used to reduce the effectiveness of key targets.

The choice of Legion of Sacrament proved to be very effective. Combined with the Corpse Cart all of the spellcasters were at +2 to cast which resulted in the majority of spells going through unchallenged. The Masters' Teachings also proved to be very useful being able to bring back my Grimghast Reapers more then once in the opponent's combat phase ready to move and charge in my next turn.

Overall at the Grand Tournament Heat I went three wins out of the five games played (and a surprise nomination for best army despite not actually making the cut to get into the final 6) securing a place at the Grand Finals. The wins were against Karadron Overlords, a Bloodthirster focused Khorne list and Seraphon. Losses were against the new Slaanesh and Gristlegore Flesh Eater Courts.

None of my losses I feel were unavoidable so I put those down in part to my lack of practice with the army. I had some issues with the large always strike first monsters (or ones that make you always strike last) but I understand that Games Workshop is looking to adjust this in future FAQs and erratas. For the record, I have no issues with units having strong abilities as long as they are appropriately costed so it is good to see GW doing some work to address this in a more timely manner then they did in WH: Fantasy's heyday. As a side note I did quickly learn to appreciate the Inspiring Presence command ability; It turns out that being able to bring back the majority of a unit that has been reduced to only a handful of models whilst not having to worry about bravery is pretty strong.

I was very happy with the way the army performed and it played exactly as I had imagined when I was deciding on its themes. I hope this shows that it is perfectly possible to make a more 'fluffy' list to an event whilst also being able to win a few games.

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