“A common misconception amongst modern historians and their students is that the title of Dominion refers to the Dominion of Man. It most certainly does not. The original inhabitants referred instead to the Dominion of Hazlia, the Pantokrator, God of Mankind. And with his Fall the Dominion ended – but did not die…”
The Old Dominion are Conquest’s Undead faction, modelled aesthetically on the Eastern Roman and Byzantine empires. No shambling zombie hordes, the animate vessels of the Old Dominion are an elite, durable force with an emphasis on resilient infantry supported by strange and macabre constructs of the priesthood.
Playing the Old Dominion is typically an exercise in patience. This is not an army of sweeping manoeuvre or cataclysmic long-ranged fire; the Dominion moves carefully but inexorably, weathering the early game, building its strength, and crushing their opposition in the late game. As an Old Dominion player, time is on your side, and your force is resilient enough to make the most of it.
- Highly durable, as they ignore resolve checks
- Powerful characters, both in terms of offensive output and ability to support units
- Some of the best magic in the game
- Gets stronger as the game progresses
- Generally well balanced roster with many ways to play and only a small number of units below the general power curve
- Generally expensive, smaller units and lower activation counts
- Not particularly mobile
- Vulnerable to enemy ranged attacks
- Weak early game, as your army needs to take casualties to power up
The Old Dominion are characterised by three notable special rules, the Animate Vessel and Memories of Old rules shared by (almost) all their units, and the Dark Power army-wide special rule.
Animate Vessels are the undead animated by Hazlia’s power. This rule prevents your troops from performing the inspire action (which coupled with generally low clash values makes it hard for Old Dominion to land a lot of hits in melee) but makes all units with the rule Terrifying (1).
Additionally, Animate Vessels have a resolve characteristic of ‘-‘ and always pass all resolve characteristic tests. This is the source of the Dominion’s resilience – while every other faction can potentially get their resolve characteristics quite high, they always run the risk of suffering some resolve damage, and a sufficiently unlucky roll can turn a bad enemy attack into a catastrophic one. Not so for the Old Dominion; your animate vessels will never take damage from resolve, meaning they’ll never get unlucky and see your opponent’s increase hugely at a stroke due to a series of resolve failures.
Memories of Old
All Animate Vessels pair that rule with their Memories of Old. A unit’s memories will provide some boost that augments the unit (like Bastion, Cleave, Brutal Impact, additional Impact hits, etc) but which are initially only available by spending one of the unit’s actions. As you accumulate Dark Power, these will first become a draw event (instead of an action), and then later be useable as both a draw event and an action. Only a small number of regiments will try to stack their Memories this way, but it can be powerful when they do.
The value of their memories will vary from unit to unit; for some, it’s a nice boost, but for others it’s an essential part of their role, meaning they don’t come fully online until you’ve generated enough Dark Power. Which brings us to…
Whenever one of your stands with the Animate Vessel rule dies, you add a point to the Dark Power pool. By default, there’s only one power pool in any given army (with the exception being an army led by a Fallen Divinity – see below), and as power gets added to the pool, your army becomes more powerful.
Once you reach the second tier (typically at eight tokens, which is to say eight dead stands of troops) your Memories of Old unlock as draw events, and at the third tier (at seventeen tokens – a considerable number of casualties) your whole army becomes inspired without having to perform the inspire action (which animate vessels cannot do anyway). Certain commanders also unlock a fourth tier, which makes your army inflict greater resolve damage on enemies.
This mechanic is what makes the Old Dominion such a late-game powerhouse. Although their troops generally start out making the trade-offs of cost, speed and lethality in exchange for their impressive durability, as the game passes those weaknesses begin to fall away. This means, almost unique amongst Conquest factions, the Old Dominon has an in-built rubber band mechanic, which helps you come back if you fall behind. The more casualties you sustain, the more dangerous your remaining troops become. Managing this, and in particular keeping a handle on the feeling that you’re behind and therefore losing (you might not be!) is key to playing the Dominion. Keep your eye on the late-game, and remember – time is on your side.
Arguably the most powerful spellcaster in the game, an Archimandrite comes in the Old Dominion starter box and will feature in many lists. Although they can’t reach the pure destructive potential of a fully juiced Dweghom tempered sorcerer, or heal quite as much as a 100 Kingdoms Water Mage, no other spellcaster in the game combines such high spellcasting values with such a variety of offensive, buffing and healing spells to select from. No matter where they go in your initiative stack or what’s going on around them, an Archimandrite will always have something powerful to do with their spellcasting.
Sample Loadout #1:
Archimandrite, Unholy Mastery, Devoted to Hazlia, Consecrated Mitre, Arcane Retinue 1: Weighing in at a pricey 195 points, this Archimandrite is premier spellcasting support. Able to reach a godlike Priest (10) or even Priest (11) in the right army, his spells will almost always succeed and he will usually be able to cast two spells per activation. Can be optionally made your Warlord for three spells a round, but this is usually overkill (you won’t always have three good spells to cast).
Sample Loadout #2:
Archimandrite Warlord, Unholy Sacrament, Arcane Retinue 1: A more support-oriented Archimandrite, this Archimandrite uses the powerful Unholy Sacrament to offer true battlefield-wide support. If you want to go full priest, he actually pairs very well with the first Archimandrite build above, as you can concentrate all your magical force on one part of the battlefield. Just make sure to take a full warband with him so you can maximise the power of the Sacrament.
Our other spellcasting character, Heirodeacons are support spellcasters. Their Dark Supplication spell is one of only two ways in the entire faction to add Dark Power to the pool without sustaining casualties, and for this reason a Heirodeacon is almost always present in an Old Dominion list, often carrying the Blasphemous Soma artifact to further increase the power flowing into the pool. The effect of this basic Heirodeacon loadout can’t be understated – so long as it’s present, you will slowly be gaining the power that makes your army more powerful, which puts your opponent on a clock. You will be getting more powerful as time passes; they won’t.
One unique note about Heirodeacons is their second spell, Blackflame Coruscation, which is a passable offensive spell that doubles as a surprisingly strong payoff for getting Dark Power high (thanks to scoring additional hits equal to your Dark Power tier). This means Heirodeacons come with their own payoff, and it’s quite possible to run two moderately equipped Deacons in a list, functioning as their own setup and payoff – aiming to get you to the higher tiers quickly and become competent blasters when they do.
Finally, Heirodeacons have the Dark Shepherd ability, which lets you kill your own troops. In any other army this would be a bit of a head scratcher, but in Old Dominion it adds a potential additional source of Dark Power. Use it sparingly, but remember it exists. In a pinch, some games have even been won by a Heirodeacon topping their own unit (and themselves) at a pivotal moment to push the dark power pool a tier higher.
Heirodeacon, Blasphemous Soma, Arcane Retinue 1: A simple and effective early game power battery and late-game blaster, the Arcane Retinue both helps guarantee the early power tokens and makes sure you get the late game Blackflame off.
Strategos (Mounted and on Foot)
Our first martial character, the Foot strategos typically plays a poor second fiddle to the Xiliarch, with the mounted Strategos being more uniquely useful due to his improved attributes but more specifically his ability to force-multiply our cavalry units. The artifacts and dark blessings available to Old Dominion characters are very strong, and the mounted Strategos is the only way to layer these into a unit like Kataphraktoi.
If you’re a fan of the idea of Athanatoi regiments, they’re also mainstay for a Strategos, so a foot Strategos can find a home there. Otherwise, for only 5pts more, a Xiliarch is generally the much more attractive infantry character for your armies.
As a warlord, the Strategos’ supremacy ability is army-wide and can be used at a variety of stages through the game, but can function very powerfully as part of an alpha strike plan. The free reforms can be used to rotate your regiments to move their corners much closer to the enemy, effectively giving you a significant charge extender. Although centaur prodromoi aren’t released yet, one of the few potential early-game alpha strike lists of the Old Dominion will combine a Strategos warlord with multiple mid-size Prodromoi units for extremely long range, quite dangerous alpha strikes.
Sample Loadout #1:
Mounted Strategos, Eternal Discipline, Aventine Armour, Skofnung: this Strategos turns a unit of Kataphraktoi into an astonishing anvil, provided they aren’t being targeted by extremely high cleave or armour piercing attacks. It’s also an ideal place for the very impressive Skofnung sword, with the goal being to bring the Kataphracts on late into a matchup where they can leverage its full power and win the game.
Sample Loadout #2:
Foot Strategos, Cuirass of Hazlia’s Shadow, Skofnung, Eternal Discipline, Regalia 1: this Strategos exists to combine with Athanatoi, who are a medium blender unit available as mainstay troops in a Strategos warband. Athanatoi have a high volume of attacks and flurry, but have no native cleave and are fragile by Old Dominion standards. This Strategos boosts their Evasion to 2 which gives them a chance of weathering some attacks and adds linebreaker to complement the high number of hits they generate.
A dedicated Foot character, a Xiliarch sacrifices some of a Foot Strategos’ inconsistently useful resilience for more attacks and native cleave, at a small additional cost. This makes them the starting point for a character who can vary from ‘dangerous’ to ‘extremely, stupidly dangerous’, capable of adding significant lethality to our units that might otherwise try to wear down their enemy through attrition alone.
Where a Strategos’ supremacy ability is army wide, a Xiliarch’s focuses on their warband, giving every regiment in that warband an extra free clash action that round. Although this requires setup (you need to be able to get your units to combat and not have them die or be stalled out), it’s an intensely powerful effect, as the Xiliarch has a high quality warband and will be adding his own offensive power to one of those regiments. Even if it’s just him that gets to attack twice a turn, this can be a powerful effect.
Worth remembering is that this ability doesn’t just let you perform two clashes. It can also let you perform two other actions, then clash. In a pinch this means a unit could march + charge + clash for cavalry-level threat ranges from our infantry formations.
A Xiliarch’s warband is also the sole place to find our only non-brute heavy unit, the outstanding Varangian Guard, who are due for release in March.
Sample Loadout #1:
Xiliarch, Calamitas, Blade of the Caelsor, Gladiator, Combat Retinue 3: clocking in at 195pts (plus extra if you want to give him a second artifact), this Xiliarch the high watermark for ridiculous blending in Old Dominion. With 7 attacks at clash 4, cleave 3, and terror 1 with deadly blades and flurry, this Xiliarch can be parked in any unit to turn them into an existential threat to most enemies. You may hear me refer to this as a ‘Fanncy Xiliarch’, so named for an Australian player who runs them extensively. It’s a beast and will kill whole enemy units by himself.
Sample Loadout #2:
Xiliarch, Semion of the Legion, Calamitas, Gladiator, Regalia 1: a hybrid blender/support Xiliarch, this version is cheaper but still very dangerous and adds attacks and durability to his regiment. This is the kind of Xiliarch you consider when you want a Praetorian Guard unit to endure without healing support, or want a more cost-effective addition to a Varangian Guard unit (who need less help absolutely monstering enemy regiments but appreciate the defensive boost and extra attacks from Regalia).
An incarnation of a fallen member of Hazlia’s Pantheon, the Fallen Divinities are horrifying dark gods – and effectively embody an entire variant to our usual army-wide special rules. As mentioned above, Dark Power normally gathers in a single dark power pool that then boosts the surviving models in the army (wherever they might be on the battlefield). When a Fallen Divinity is present, it instead gathers in her own Fallen Divinity pool. Rather than empowering the army, it instead empowers and heals her, boosting her own stats and allowing her to boost troops within a radius around her.
This radically changes how the army plays; firstly, it means your power is all concentrated in one place, and secondly, it means that if she dies, all that accumulated power is lost. A Fallen Divinity can be an intensely powerful element, but she’s not totally invincible, and sufficiently powerful attacks or sheer weight of fire can bring her down.
When building lists around a Fallen Divinity, bear in mind that your army will almost never unlock memories of old as a draw event, and will certainly never reach the tier of dark power that makes them inspired all the time. As such, look for troops that don’t necessarily need their memories as much or are comfortable using their memories as actions, like Kanephora and Varangian Guard.
Fallen Divinity, Aura of Dread: a Fallen Divinity can’t take equipment and doesn’t really need much boosting, but the Aura of Dread when taken by her will also boost units around her, which is very powerful. If you’re worried about her taking multiple attacks every round (and she will), you should also spend an extra 30pts to give her Eternal Discipline to let her reroll defence rolls of 6.
One of our two light ghost units, Kheres are a hybrid ranged/spellcaster unit who appear as a mainstay in the Archimandrite warband. They cannot have a character join them (so cannot be used to get the Archimandrite onto the field early) but can provide an early ranged presence and provide a rare option to perform a spellcasting action with a regiment rather than a character as the game progresses. They have two spells; Insanity (an offensive spell that causes defence rolls to be made against the lowest resolve in the target regiment) and Drain Will (a debuff which reduces an enemy regiment’s defence by 1 until round end).
Although their unit concept is very interesting, in practice Kheres are currently struggling a little under the weight of successive nerfs before and during the edition change. Their ranged attack is among the weakest and shortest-range in the entire game, and their spellcasting is not especially powerful – Insanity in particular looks dangerous on paper but has a low range and a very low attunement value of 2 (meaning it can be reduced by interference to 1, making even a large kheres unit likely to fail to cast the spell much of the time).
At 50pts a stand and 160pts for a starting regiment, Kheres will typically underperform relative to their cost. Their main use is as a light mainstay regiment, unlocking other (better) regiments, and giving you some early board presence and bodies you don’t mind dying to fuel the rest of your army. They’re a unit to keep an eye on, though; Conquest is a living wargame, and it wouldn’t take many changes for their skillset to potentially fill a very useful niche.
Our second ghost unit, Moroi are likewise available only in an Archimandrite warband, but unlike kheres are a restricted choice, and are a fast, fragile, dangerous melee unit rather than a ranged one. Combining high attacks, cleave (through memories of old), and aura of death, Moroi put out a lot of hits and are one of the more dangerous light units that exist in the game. They’re also fast; march 6 is high by Old Dominion infantry standards, but more importantly they have the fluid formation rule, which can hugely extend their charge threat range, especially on larger units (by swinging their corner toward the enemy they want to charge, artificially closing the gap and turning long charges into much shorter ones).
The biggest roadblock to fielding Moroi is that as a restricted unit in the Archimandrite’s warband, they compete heavily with Bone Golems, who are bigger, tougher, almost as fast, and a little more dangerous. However, this is something of a false dichotomy, as Bone Golems (as good as they are) are heavy units, always appearing two to four turns later in the game.
This is particularly important not just in terms of table presence (which Old Dominion can play through an absence of in the early game if needed), but in terms of what I’d call your ‘available support’ in any given turn. Since Moroi will be in an army with an Archimandrite, you’ll have powerful magical support and healing on tap, but that support needs a target to be worthwhile. Moroi give you something to do with it on those two to four turns they’re on the board and fighting but the Bone Golems aren’t. Eventually, yes, the Golems will make it to melee and do their work, but the more fragile Moroi look more attractive when you consider they’re likely to be the sole beneficiary of your Archimandrite’s support during those early turns of the game.
As an unreleased unit, Cultists aren’t yet available either as models or to play in official events. Once released, they promise to be a rare living unit, which means they do not contribute dark power when they die (which is normally generated by the death of animate vessels) but do represent a light unit that our infantry characters like Archimandrites and Heirodeacons can join (both of whom they are a mainstay regiment for). They’re also cheap, and that cost makes their ranged attacks (which are otherwise almost identical to Kheres) surprisingly tolerable. On top of that, especially with a character embedded to provide Terrifying (1), they’re surprisingly annoying in melee, thanks to their lethal demise hits causing wounds to enemies that attack them.
Typically, cultists will come in regiments of 3-4 as an escort to a spellcasting character to get them on the field early, and are very useful in this capacity. Additionally, although it’s a bit of a meme pick, they can be used in big blocks thanks to their very low additional cost per stand (a mere 30pts). Beyond a certain point you’re never getting to make ranged attacks with those extra models, but a huge brick of them is not that expensive and surprisingly effective in melee thanks to lethal demise. A lot of units simply don’t trade effectively into them, costing more points in casualties to themselves than it takes to kill a commensurate value of cultists.
Ultimately, you can’t take too many of them – your army needs animate vessels for the special rules to function – but they’ll be a surprisingly useful unit in multiple configurations when they arrive.
Our final light unit and also unreleased, Centaur Prodromoi are light melee cavalry. I say ‘light’, but they’re surprisingly able fighters at Defence 2 with a shield and cleave 1 and terrifying 1 in melee. They also get a passable set of impact hits once memories of old unlocks as a draw event, letting them engage quite a lot of units in their weight class and even contribute well to a fight against some medium and heavy regiments. They’re also the fastest native unit in the army, being our sole March 8 regiment.
Prodromoi also have the significant advantage of being a mainstay regiment in both Xiliarch and Strategos warbands. At 50pts per stand, this makes them viable as cheap(ish), useful, mainstay regiments to unlock more unique restricted elements, or even as relatively large units by themselves. They combine well with Xiliarch or Strategos supremacy abilities too, which will make them another popular choice when they arrive.
Our mainstay-with-everyone regiment (equivalent to Bound Clones, Men at Arms, Hold Warriors etc), Legionnaires are the ‘poor bloody infantry’ of the Old Dominion and their stats reflect that. If your introduction to Conquest has been through games or battle reports from the previous edition, you might have seen Legionnaires used extensively in multiple configurations including being regularly fielded in large (6+ stand) regiments. Unfortunately, this is no longer effective in 2.0, where they’ve been (heavily) nerfed and should be treated more like armed auxiliaries, fulfilling a more limited but still necessary role. They have limited defenses (phalanx is much harder to benefit from now it doesn’t persist between turns), don’t do much damage (with low clash, average attacks per stand, and now only support 2), and are basically cheap(ish), expendable melee support, and character bunkers for characters who can’t slot into more specialised units.
In these roles, however, they’re indispensable, meaning that even if they aren’t the greatest unit for their cost, you can expect to run them in many lists. Typically, you’ll see Legionnaires in one of three basic but useful configurations:
Option 1: 3 legionnaires with an Icon Bearer. The icon bearer means the regiment will generate one extra dark power when totally destroyed, and getting it totally destroyed is your goal. Park them somewhere they’re in the enemy’s way and use them as a blocking regiment or cheap scoring element that needs to be answered. 130 points for a ‘go and die’ unit that other factions might pay as little as 90 or even 75pts for is a bit stiff, but consider the premium to be for that sweet sweet dark power to make your other, better units into their best selves.
Option 2: 3 legionnaires with an Optio (and optionally an Icon Bearer). The Optio is a valuable attachment that will give legionnaires the vanguard rule, getting them up the field to be more annoying and more dead more quickly. This configuration does everything option 1 does, only faster.
Option 3: 4 legionnaires with no attachments. For when you have literally no other legal place to put an important character, but need them to last a little longer than a minimum unit. Until cultists arrive, and probably even after, this is a natural home of characters like an Archimandrite or a Heirodeacon. And actually, thanks to stuff like the late-game blasting power of the Heirodeacon, this isn’t a bad little unit for the cost. Just for Hazlia’s sake keep them away from anything that looks dangerous until it’s fully engaged with your actually good units.
Ultimately, the nerf to Legionnaires between editions is a shame, but they remain a good purchase for new players, because at minimum you’ll still always need some, if only because someone has to do the dying so your better units can reach peak performance. And speaking of…
Elite versions of legionnaires (and built from the same kit), Praetorians give up Support (2) and cost a bit extra to otherwise improve on legionnaires in almost every way. They’re more dangerous, and they’re much more durable, serving as perfect character bunkers for any character that wants a tough escort. Although they clock in at a relatively pricey 160pts for a base unit, at only 45pts per additional stand, they scale up well. You’re mostly paying for durability, but durability at that cost is efficient, and sets up a big, useful unit that can anchor a battle line, or serve as a home to a powerful character.
The biggest impediment to fielding Praetorians is that they’re only a mainstay regiment for the Xiliarch, meaning that’s where you’ll most commonly see them. Easily the most common configuration for them is in a 4-6 strong unit as an escort for a Fanncy Xilliarch, who provides prodigious melee killing power to complement the Praetorian’s durability. It’s an expensive combination, probably coming in at close to a quarter of your army much of the time, but it’s a potent concentration of force, and to quote a youtube strategist, concentration of force destroys armies.
In a pinch, an Archimandrite might also give up a restricted slot for some Praetorians to hide in, hoping to make use of his presence in a more aggressive front line regiment. A warlord Archimandrite for example can use Turn the Tide to get his Praetorians into melee and then follow up with Dark Immolation (sometimes a challenging spell to cast due to low range, but no issue at all if the Archimandrite is embedded in the unit) to inflict a staggering number of aura of death hits when the enemy regiment activates. You can perform the same manoeuvre with Legionnaires, of course, but without the resilience of Praetorians, they’re much riskier to approach the front lines with while sheltering your fragile Archimandrite.
Although they look externally like expensive shock heavy cavalry (they even have the ‘shock’ rule), don’t be fooled: Kataphraktoi are still an Old Dominion unit and that makes them more than capable of slow, sustained melee. In fact, this is often where they’ll get best results; they’re only base Clash 2, so their impact attacks won’t actually score that many hits, but they have fundamentally solid stats for force multiplication by both a mounted Strategos and support spellcasting from an Archimandrite. Skofnung is great as they have a solid volume of attacks; Eternal Discipline and Aventine Armour are great on them as they are our only natively Defence 4 unit. And because they get their resilience from their defence rather than their wound count, healing from an Archimandrite is comparably more efficient than trying to heal a unit with more wounds but worse defense.
(I realise here that what I’ve said is “if you give this regiment Linebreaker, Untouchable and Hardened, they’re quite good”, which is a statement that can be made of almost any Infantry or Cavalry unit in the Old Dominion roster, but they are still a solid if pricey vehicle for attaching a character to.)
The other useful thing about Kataphraktoi is that they’re an ideal regiment to contribute dice to your reserve pool without needing to actually turn up early themselves. They’ll add the dice to the pool that let your legionnaire units move forward early and do what they need to do (i.e. escort a Heirodeacon onto the board on turn two, or advance quickly, hold the enemy in place, and die), and then comfortably arrive as the last among your medium units, where they can either use their speed to catch up and form ranks with your other regiments, or appear in a part of the battle line where they’re facing an enemy that doesn’t want to see them. This is especially relevant if you are running them with a Strategos, where they’re very durable if they just aren’t fighting cleave, and can punch through enemy regiments reliant on shields or bastion using their linebreaker.
Our premium ranged unit, Karyatids are brutes wielding greatbows in the style of Byzantine Ushabti. Although they don’t outrange the longest-ranged ranged units in the game (longbows and marksman clones can fire further, for example), they have the longest range of any Armour Piercing 2 unit and an impressive Barrage of 4 per unit once their memories of old are active as a draw event. They also serve as an able counter-battery unit thanks to their defence of 3, which is high enough to offer some protection against more regular enemy ranged units armed with bows or crossbows. As a brute unit, they’re also tall enough to shoot over our infantry, making them very flexible in terms of the support fire they can provide.
Ultimately, the only reason not to include Karyatids in most lists (apart from the fact that they are often a restricted unit) is that as a ranged unit they fundamentally fill a support role, not a mainline combat one. In Conquest as with most wargames, you don’t want to build your armies with too many support elements and not enough units to do the actual heavy lifting. And because our characters are so strong, we often spend a lot of our nominal ‘support budget’ on them. A Karyatid presence in your lists will almost always be good, but make sure to balance them against your characters and ensure you still have enough meat and potatoes in the list to do the fighting and the dying on the front lines.
As Praetorians are more expensive, much tougher Legionnaires, Athanatoi are more expensive, much blendier ones. About as durable as regular legionnaires at native Defence 2 but far, far more dangerous on a per-stand basis thanks to a whopping 6 attacks with flurry, Athanatoi are a unit only available to Xiliarchs and Strategos but are an interesting choice in both.
Ultimately, personally, the fragility of Athanatoi keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending them. But at 170pts + 50pts per additional stand, they’re cost effective even with their relative fragility (and remember, no Old Dominion unit is truly fragile) and can comfortably be run either as independent small blocks that will do some good damage, or as a larger unit being aggressively force-multiplied by a foot Strategos or Xiliarch (but probably a Strategos, who they’re Mainstay with). If your embedded character has Cuirass of Hazlia’s Shadow they go up to Evasion 2, which lets them risk facing down some units we would otherwise have to just take our licks from, like the Hellbringer Drake, who will shoot one of your units to death on the turn it spends all its overcharge counters unless you’re both resilient to its armour penetration and have a deep enough wound pool to shrug the hits.
An unreleased unit that we haven’t seen concept art for yet but which will almost certainly share a dual kit with Prodromoi, Centaur Kerykes are very similar to Karyatids and even appear in the same warbands (albeit as mainstay with a Heirodeacon). They’re faster but with lower range, about as dangerous per shot but with fewer shots, just as tough, and with access to the very situational but sometimes very useful Sureshoot rule. They are, however, cheaper than Karyatids, and I recommend them in particular in Fallen Divinity lists, where neither unit can rely on its memories of old, which hurts the Karyatids much more than the Kerykes.
Otherwise, everything I said about the Karyatids applies to the Kerykes – they’re a little different, and a little cheaper, but appear in the same warbands and fulfill the same role.
Another unreleased unit and one likely to share a dual kit with Cultists, Hashashin are the second of only two living regiments in the Old Dominion. This means all the standard rules don’t apply – they do take resolve checks, they aren’t surprisingly durable, they can inspire and they don’t generate dark power. This makes them non-trivial to include in a list as you can’t afford that many stands that don’t generate dark power, and they’re only available as restricted choices in Heirodeacon warbands.
They are, however, fast, medium blenders. With a whopping attack score of 7 with cleave 1 and access to deadly blades (generally a better upgrade than going to cleave 2 most of the time, just for comparison), they’re real can openers if you can afford them and they don’t get splattered.
This is a regiment I’d generally advise not thinking too much about until it’s due for release. They’re probably good, but they’re a bit niche, a bit weird, and don’t play into our usual game plan. You’ll need to practice a bit with them to get a feel for if you like them, which is something that will be more worth doing when we know they’re actually on the horizon.
Let me make two definitive statements about the Profane Sepulchre that I have absolutely no grounds being this certain about.
One, there’s no way this model is balanced.
Two, I have no idea if it’s too powerful, or not powerful enough.
Look at those abilities. Look at them. In particular look at the fourth and final use of Exhortation of Eternal Faith, because that’s the stupidly insane one that is going to make or break the unit based entirely on you lining it up. I’ve run the math on this and even if you spend more wounds to deal more hits than you would generally need to kill an enemy target, the Sepulchre can cost-efficiently blow out a staggering number of high impact enemy pieces in a single draw event.
The catch? You have to start your activation within 10” of the enemy you’re looking to precision orbital strike. But if you line it up? That apex predator: gone. Those dragonslayers: gone. That unit of Ashen Dawn knights that still has its blessing available? Gone (although you’re going to need to blow through most of your available wounds to lock that one in, so maybe not the perfect trade).
Yes, the Sepulchre costs 270pts. You could take four Karyatids for that and have some change. I don’t know if all the effort will make it worth the payoff of a massive meme for you and a colossal negative experience for your opponent. We’ll have to see. Like the Hashashin only more so, it’s probably best to wait this one out until you have a model available for purchase.
Let me open this section by saying: the Old Dominion has no bad heavy units. All our heavies are good, and the way Old Dominion plays with an emphasis on getting stronger over time and keeping our eye on the late game means that heavy regiments play perfectly into our game plan. Not every list can or should be ‘all heavies all the time’ (although the current scenario pack sure does make it feel like a good option), but our heavies – Bone Golems included – are good.
Bone Golems are strong, fast, and durable. The closest thing they have to a drawback is the degree of randomness in their attacks (being Clash 2 with Relentless Blows is mathematically equivalent to being Clash 3, but in practice it means you’ll have a lot more peaks and valleys in your attacks), but they make up for that by being consistently durable, able to reroll charges, and having a powerful Aura of Death.
The Aura of Death in particular makes them very useful into almost all targets, since it means they’re layering their Cleave 2 primary attacks with both Impact Hits and Aura of Death hits. This means they’re able to deal with both heavily armoured regiments and lightly armoured regiments you want a lot of hits to chew through. You’ll never go wrong including Bone Golems, and they’re the main reason the restricted slots in an Archimandrite warband are so heavily contested.
Our second currently released melee heavy Brute, Kanephors combine a series of rules (blessed, flawless strikes, hardened + good evasion and generally good stats across the board) to produce a unit that has no enemy it particularly excels into but also no enemy that particularly excels into them. Within reason, they can be relied upon to plug almost any gap in your lines, and engage and do ok against almost any enemy.
Since they’re heavy and will arrive later in the game, this makes them a perfect emergency response unit. If your opponent is directing overwhelming force at some part of your line, Kanephors can move in to hold that position and will probably account well for themselves in a way that Bone Golems for example might not if confronted by, say, Cleave 3 Fiend Hunting Dragonslayers.
As with every Blessed unit, the biggest weakness of Kanephors is being exposed to multiple high quality attacks per round. Watch out for particularly dangerous ranged attacks being directed at them in the same turn as you send them into the breach against a high-powered enemy melee unit. Even they have limits, and that much force split across multiple attacks will test it.
Although not yet technically released, Varangian Guard are on the way in March and I anticipate them landing with a bang when they arrive. Only available in a Xiliarch warband, they alone would be payoff for his inclusion if a Xiliarch didn’t already, you know, absolutely slap.
Defensively they’re no slouch, being Old Dominion troops to start with, and having six wounds, Defence 3 and Hardened 1. That’s robust. But on top of that they have a respectable Clash 3 and with their memories of old are able to climb as Cleave 4 with Linebreaker. Nothing without evasion shrugs that off – even Stoneforged are saving on 1s. And while they might only have four attacks per stand, a regiment of four Varangian guard stands dishes out 17 attacks per clash and ‘only’ comes in at an expensive but affordable 245pts if you pay for a standard (which you should).
On top of that, being in the Xiliarch’s warband makes them eligible for the Xiliarch’s supremacy ability, making them the ultimate payoff for a Xiliarch warlord. Varangian Guard are very nearly dragonslayers (albeit cheaper and usually a little less dangerous most of the time), but when they can clash twice in a turn, they’re just about the high watermark for offensive damage out of a single melee unit in the game.
Our third and final heavy Brute regiment, Buccephaloi are something resembling undead minotaurs and are the most offensively oriented of our brute units. With good clash and native access to Cleave 3, they’re effectively more expensive Varangian Guard who trade out a little survivability for March 5 and some fairly dangerous impact attacks, making them a strong payoff if you can line up a charge + clash.
Ultimately, I’m a little lukewarm on these, mostly due to their cost – 220pts is rough for a unit that needs other units to screen and pin the enemy for them to come in and finish off. But they don’t have a model yet and there isn’t any sign of one on the way, so they can safely be left for future consideration when they’re closer to coming out.
Starter Army – 1,000pts:
== (Warlord) Archimandrite : Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Moroi (3) :
* Bone Golems (3) :
== Hierodeacon : Blasphemous Soma, Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
This is a simple starter army built from the models you’ll get in a starter box plus an extra box of Legionnaires, some Bone Golems and a Heirodeacon. With the models you’ll have, it can also expand out to 1250pts by adding some Kheres into the list (moving the second Legion unit in the Archimandrite warband into the Heirodeacon’s warband, or using the points to bulk up those two existing units) and adding extra equipment and dark blessings to the Archimandrite.
This list uses a lot of staples and will serve you well. Make sure to keep the Moroi supported, heal through any damage you suffer as best you can until the Bone Golems can join the fray, and remember how much your character spellcasting scales as you increase in dark power. This list might not look like it has any ranged units, but those offensive spells will put in work.
Cavalry Expansion – 1,500pts:
== (Warlord) Archimandrite : Consecrated Mitre, Devoted to Hazlia
* Bone Golems (3) :
* Legionnaires (4) :
== Hierodeacon : Blasphemous Soma, Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Karyatids (3) :
== Mounted Strategos : Aventine Armor, Skofnung, Eternal Discipline
* Legionnaires (3) : Icon Bearer, Optio
* Kataphraktoi (3) : Standard Bearer
This list takes the starter army and expands it by adding a mounted Strategos, Kataphraktoi and Karyatids. We’ve fit a bigger regiment for the Archimandrite to hide in, and started to really juice up his spellcasting – this is where we start to see the 9+ dice spellcasting enter play.
The mounted strategos also adds a serious force concentration unit into play that can take and dish out damage. As noted in the section on Katapraktoi above, ride this unit onto the table once you know it’s going to be committed where it has a decisive advantage that will win you the fight it’s committed to and from there the game.
This is a lot of characters, but Old Dominion characters are good (and get you a lot of points on the table for your hobby time and dollars), and you’ll still have your ghosts to play with as an alternate configuration using otherwise the same models. You’ll be well on your way to a reasonably well-rounded 2,000 point force.
Fallen Divinity – 2,000pts:
== (Warlord) Fallen Divinity : Aura of Malice
* Kanephors (3) :
* Kanephors (3) :
== Xhiliarch : Semion of the Legion, Calamitas, Blade of the Caelesor, Gladiator, Regalia 1, Regalia 2
* Legionnaires (3) : Icon Bearer
* Legionnaires (3) : Icon Bearer
* Varangian Guard (4) : Standard Bearer, Princeps
* Varangian Guard (4) : Standard Bearer, Princeps
== Hierodeacon : Blasphemous Soma
* Legionnaires (3) : Icon Bearer
And now for something completely different. Although this list is contingent on the arrival of the Varangian Guard, it’s an utter hellscape that I intend to run the hot second I have them in my hands and assembled. By far the biggest risk the list runs is just how much of the list is spent on the obscene heavy presence, meaning the Divinity herself is likely to have to hide off the table for most of the first few turns while her army actually arrives (putting her other elements under pressure and making the list generally susceptible to early aggression fast and dangerous enough to take out the Heirodeacon in particular). Once everything is in play, though, this list has five separate regiments capable of functioning as world-beaters, and the very real possibility exists that even if the Divinity dies, those other units can carry the field without her.
This list could easily transition into an equally murderous but more conventional list by removing the Divinity and making the Xiliarch the warlord. Change his kit up to be more of a personal blender and put him in Praetorians, and use any spare points to get a decent little Archimandrite and his warband. This will be more rounded, make more normal use of Dark Power, and offer the full power of a Xiliarch supremacy turn – but lack the personal presence of the Divinity.
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