I have been using units that benefit from the Entombed Beneath the Sands rule in every single one of my games with Tomb Kings (all 18 :P), so suffice to say I have some experience with them now and I'd like to share it with the community.The Good
Entombed Beneath the Sands units can arrive anywhere on the table; this is a unique ability that no other unit or army in the game can share. They can also achieve this fairly safely, though as you'll see later it does come with a little risk. They can seriously mess up battle plans and battle lines and generally cause a bit of havoc, which is always nice. The Bad
These units generally have a high points cost, as well as not being able to charge on the turn they arrive. However, taking into account all other Ambushers in the game and comparing to the 40k equivalent of Deep Strike, this really isn't a drawback so much as it is simply keeping in line with the system.Discussion
So, we have four units that (can) have Entombed Beneath the Sands: Necropolis Knights, Sepulchral Stalkers, Tomb Scorpions, and Tomb Swarms. Conveniently, this is the order of highest to lowest points cost as well, since the Necropolis Knights must purchase the ability. Now, I'll be fair to mention that I have only used Sepulchral Stalkers and Tomb Scorpions in my games, but the general principles can still apply to the other units as well.
Necropolis Knights are a kick in the teeth. They are a major combat unit that dishes out lots of poisoned/killing blow attacks with a good statline, as well as holding the title of "Best Armor Save in Tomb Kings" at a decent 3+. I've not used them due to aesthetic reasons, but I imagine they would take the place of the major combat unit in the army, or the death star of sorts. Most reports I've read suggest that units of 6+ are ideal...this is a hefty investment in the unit, but being able to spring your anvil unit behind your opponents' units has some major advantages and just might cause some consternation. Flipping the battle lines is always entertaining.
Sepulchral Stalkers are a different beast entirely. They are an incredible ranged unit, when properly placed and pointed. They have a bit of a weaker statline than the Necropolis Knights, but this is to focus their efforts on their Transmogrifying Gaze. This unit has an advantage over all the other Entombed Beneath the Sands units in that it can actively participate in the game on the turn it arrives by turning something to sand. With an Artillery Dice's worth of shots each that ignore armor saves completely makes opponents balk and encourages their best targets to be either small or heavily armored, or both! While they can defend themselves in combat, against anything stronger than an Empire Detachment they'll be struggling.
Tomb Scorpions work individually and accordingly have a higher Strength and Toughness than most other units in this discussion. They also have Killing Blow and Poison attacks, which are quite nice. They have plenty of uses, but even so one must keep in mind their limitations. As a single model, they don't produce a high number of attacks, nor can they take many. Thus, their targets should be either equally small, or too weak to be effective (Strength 3, basically).
Tomb Swarms perform a role very similar to Tomb Scorpions and they are far weaker, but they do have the benefit of having a lot more wounds. With a larger footprint they can deny more ground to the enemy, but that's about the extent of what there is to say about them.
There are other unique Entombed units elsewhere in the book: Prince Apophas and the use of the Banner of the Hidden Dead. I've only used the former once and the latter never, so I don't have much to say on their capabilities or usage yet.
Other than the last unit touched on (Prince Apophas), all of these units are Animated Constructs, which is quite handy in keeping them alive when they start to lose combats.Putting Them to Use
Units in reserve in this manner arrive from Turn 2 onwards on a 3+...good odds! However, banking on a single die roll often makes you the user sweat more than your opponent, as you never know when the dice will take a turn for the worse. That being said, my recommendation is that, excepting a massive unit of Necropolis Knights, if you're going to take any Entombed Beneath the Sands units, take two instead. This has multiple benefits, including:
- extra insurance that something
will show up when you want it to.
- more hidden enemies for your opponent to worry about.
- more emergent options for yourself.
Now, as the real estate agents say, location location location! The placement of these units is critical, as they can never march. Tomb Scorpions' placements aren't as critical, since they are single models and can turn freely. On the plus side, 3/5 of our Entombed units have a decently high move speed of 7 (Prince Apophas has a nifty 10 for flight), allowing them to make up for a bad scatter. Still, there are some dangers to this ability. The unit has to make a Mishap roll if either of the two events occur: you roll a Misfire on the Artillery dice, or if not all the models can be placed. The former has a mere 1/6, or 17% chance of occurance. The latter can happen far too often if you aren't placing your units well. On the plus side, even when you have to roll on the chart there's only a 1/3, or 33% chance of the unit dying. All you need for them to survive is a 3+...;)
Two things you'll want to avoid are narrow gaps between units and the board edge, as both of these will cause the latter Mishap. Generally, you'll want to place your marker about 6-8" from any "Death Spot" that could cause a mishap, and this should avoid pretty much all problems. If you scatter away, the speedy movement can make up for it. If there are no such problems nearby, feel free to place them next to enemy units, as the super-safe Entombed rule makes so you'll never land on top of a unit and potentially die, which is awesome!
The best places, I've learned, are simply behind the enemy. This forces the following crucial decision: turn back to face the new threats, or push forward and hope to outpace them? The scenario can also influence their decision. There has almost always been space to do this, as well, in all my games. Even with gunline armies like Dwarfs and Empire, there is often more than enough space behind the units that even an eight inch scatter won't cause me problems.
Depending on the unit that is erupting from the ground, you'll have different ideals for where to pop up.
Necropolis Knights will generally want a flank or rear of an enemy block (their best target for dealing the most damage), as well as having plenty of space, because their footprint will be huge. Charge and stomp away.
Sepulchral Stalkers will generally be going after units of 5 or less (or more, if the Initiative is really low), but most importantly can obliterate artillery with a single shot. Emerging behind or to the flank is ideal, in a position where they can simply move forward into the rest of the battle rather than be forced to turn around.
Tomb Scorpions are also ideal Artillery hunters, like Sepulchral Stalkers. The ideal location for them, depending on the target, is outside of grapeshot/half range, and/or next to another unit. See later under "Tricks" as to why this is important. Alternatively, a Tomb Scorpion can also be used as a redirecting unit. Simply have it arrive in front of a unit you want redirected and put it as close to said unit as possible, angled how you want. This is where the superior mobility of the Tomb Scorpion really pays off. They work best against Strength 3 units, simply because they are wounding only on 6's. With few attacks coming in in the first place due to only being by itself, this can ensure its survival for a couple turns, especially when in the flank or rear. It can even break units, with a +3 for rear charge (if they were foolish enough to not turn around) and possibly another large amount of kills; don't count on it though. It can hold up weaker units well, but it's certainly not there to destroy them.
Tomb Swarms are mainly a redirecter unit, at best. Units of two are fairly cheap and can get frustratingly in the way. Because they cannot charge when they arrive and have a slow Move value, using them to specifically hunt down something is not as encouraged. Due to the plethora of poisoned attacks though, they'd be useful for getting in the way of something Monstrous with a high toughness, as you just might strike at the same time.
Here are some examples of Entombed units in action:
Link = Late arrival game
In this game I used only two units of Sepulchral Stalkers, and they both arrived late (one was because of a Mishap). Since I was facing Ogres with no artillery, I simply sent them to weaken bigger units of the guys, as their very low Initiative let me cause tons of destruction. This is also why you want to always have more than one unit that's Entombed, in case the buggers aren't showing up when they are supposed to.
Link = Ideal arrival game
This is when everything go absolutely right. Well, almost, as four of the units scattered, but again their movement made up for it. Stalkers systematically destroyed Artillery, then small units, then large units. Scorpions did the same. Prince Apophas didn't actually do much, but he was kinda fun to use.Deployment Tricks
When deploying a unit, especially a big one, all you have to do is touch the base of one member to the marker. This can lead to some fun deployments, such as with a unit of 6+ Necropolis Knights in line-abreast formation. Suddenly they can be blocking a huge portion of the table, or much closer to an enemy than your opponent would have thought. Just remember that they will have a huge Wheel and you'll need the space to do so. If you take a huge unit of Tomb Swarms, they can form up into a long line of Charge blocking/redirecting, which is always fun. As with the afore mentioned monsters as targets, they can effectively seal off its movement for at least a turn, as well as potentially kill it outright.
Tomb Scorpions have great fun messing with Cannons. They'll have to choose grapeshot or regular cannonball. Remember, the rules say that you cannot shoot a cannonball in such a way as it might hit a friendly unit; if the Scorpion is next to an enemy unit, then the player has to place his firing point 20.1" away from the friendly unit...naturally, this means it will be very hard to impossible for him to actually use it, since you'll be so close. Then, you'll either be out of range or at long range for grapeshot, also ensuring its survival. Subsequently making a 12.5 inch charge with a 7" move and Swiftstride should be pretty darn easy.
I like to bait and pop with my armies. I bait them with the rest of my army (which, composed of archers, chariots, and ushabti, looks squishy). This makes them move forward into my massed arrows and magic, opening up plenty of space behind for various Entombed units to cause problems. Conclusions
More is better, location!, correct targets. Those three tenets should really help make the best use of Entombed units.
Hopefully some new insights have been gained by you readers about the various Entombed units. I intend to add more if and when I think of it, kind of like a living document that can evolve when other people get more experience, though for the most part across the entire community I'm the only person that makes extensive use of Entombed units (wacky!).
[Addendum - Banner of the Hidden Dead discussion]
This is a list of all units that may make use of the Banner of the Hidden Dead (Inf, Cav, Char: 175pts):
- Tomb King + 5 points of upgrades
- Liche High Priest + no upgrades
- The Herald Nekaph + can choose either mount upgrade
- Ramhotep the Visionary
- Tomb Prince + 75 points of upgrades/mounts
- Tomb Herald + 115 points of upgrades/mounts
- Liche Priest + can choose all 95 points of upgrades
- Necrotect + can choose all 50 points of upgrades
- 43 Skeleton Warriors + no upgrades or 35 + spears
- 29 Skeleton Archers + no upgrades
- 14 Skeleton Horsemen + no upgrades
- 12 Skeleton Horse Archers + no upgrades
- 3 Skeleton Chariots + one command upgrade
- 15 Tomb Guard + no upgrades
Possibly useful combinations. Characters can only ever do this if they are placed in Reserves
(ie, if the scenario makes use of Reserves):
- Necrotect + 28 Skeleton Warriors
- Liche Priest on horse + 6 Horse Archers or 7 Horsemen
- Roadblocks (Summon up 40 skeletons in your opponent's way!)
- Surprise attacks (Chariots in the flank!)
- Teleport homer (Entomb the Herald, have him pop up behind enemies, then the following turns have your other units home in on him!)
- Minimum 175 points to use (Herald + upgrade + banner)
- All that are normally inherent with a buried unit