Welcome to the first of our new weekly deep dive into the warscrolls of Shadespire – this week Issac takes us through the Sepulchral Guard and to best deploy them in Age of Sigmar.
Perhaps the most highly anticipated release for Shadespire was the very first batch of models ever previewed. The Sepulchral Guard were not only awesome sculpts but also the first taste of possible Death reinforcements for a good while. Today, we’ll be looking at the Sepulchral Guard and will see how best to utilise them in your games of Age of Sigmar.
Let’s start by looking at the Sepulchral Guard’s Pitched Battle Profile. At 80 points for the seven models, that puts them the same points as the average Skeleton Warriors unit, while losing out on three models. Unlike Skeleton Warriors, however, they are not battleline. This is perhaps the greatest weakness of the Warscroll, as more often than not if you are playing a mixed Death or Deathrattle army, you want your chaff units like Skeleton Warriors to be fulfilling this role in your army.
The Warscrolls for Skeleton Warriors and the Sepulchral Guard are also very different. With a unit of ten Skeleton Warriors, you are either getting eleven attacks at a 4+/4+ profile with no rend and one damage or a 5+/4+ if equipped with spears.
The Sepulchral Guard, however, have a bit more bite than their vanilla counterparts with six attacks at a 4+/4+, two attacks at a 4+/4+ with a rend of -1, two attacks at a 4+/3+ and one attack at a 4+/3+ with a damage of two. Like the Skeleton Warriors, the Sepulchral Guard have the Serve in Death special rule, and the added special rule of Frightening Speed. More on that later.
The Sepulchral Guard make the same number of attacks between them as a unit of 10 Skeleton Warriors, but with the added damage output from the Harvester and the Rend from the Champion. This in itself does not pay for the increased points of the Sepulchral Guard and is certainly not helped by the fact that they instead restore d3 models, instead of d6.
In terms of Keywords, the Sepulchral Guard comes with everything that you would expect from a unit of up-jumped Skeleton Warriors. For the purpose of this article, the keywords we will be focusing on are Skeleton and Deathrattle. this, however, is where our first problem comes in – there are no Warscroll Battalions unique to Death or Deathrattle that can further improve the abilities of these warriors.
The Sepulchral Guard is also too small a unit to make an effective frontline unit, unlike Ironskullz Boyz or Steelheart’s Champions, with a weak save and a slightly neutered Icon Bearer ability. So why would you not just take an additional block of ten skeletons, or save the points on making one such unit a Massive Unit?
The Sepulchral Guard instead make an excellent distraction unit and are very effective at hunting down lightly armoured characters such as wizards when under the right circumstances. While there is no Warscroll Battalion that can improve the fighting ability of this warband, there is one that can make a huge use of the Sepulchral Guard’s unique rule; Frightening Speed.
The Wraith Fleet is a new faction added with Age of Sigmar’s latest campaign, Firestorm, and thanks to the Deathrattle keyword the Sepulchral Guard are able to make the very most of this battalion. Without Warning allows a unit to deploy in the same way as they might if they had the Nighthaunt allegiance abilities, and this makes the Sepulchral Guard a very effective shock unit to throw into the opponent’s weakest spot. Perhaps they have a wizard supporting their units in the backline. Maybe your Skryre opponent has a Warp Lightning Cannon parked on at the back of the board giving you trouble.
Maybe you need to pinch that objective hiding behind your opponent’s wall of Liberators. The Sepulchral Guard’s Frightening Speed ability makes the best use of this deployment, giving them a reroll on that 9″ charge that they will need to get into combat with whatever target you’ve picked. While the Sepulchral Guard might not kill your target, even having a small unit of skeletons in your opponent’s territory can cause them to have to draw units from the front lines (and away from your chattering hordes) to deal with the threat, lest that valuable Mystic Shield be killed by these deathly warriors. With your opponent distracted, much more valuable units like Black Knights can take full advantage of the gap made on the battle line.
Beyond the use of the Wraith Fleet, there are other ways of increasing the killing power of the Sepulchral Guard. Thanks to the Skeleton keyword, a Necromancer sat atop a Balewind Vortex ( Best model in the game ! Ed.) can safely cast Vanhel’s Danse Macabre on them if you absolutely must, effectively doubling the unit’s chance of killing their target unless your opponent uses up a desperate activation to score a few hits on them before they can swing.
If you’re playing a full Deathrattle army, then you can also make use of the Lord of Bones Command Ability from your Wight King to further increase the killing power of your Sepulchral Guard. While it may be infinitely more effective using this ability on your large units of Skeleton Warriors or Grave Guard, if you especially need to eliminate an aura ability (such as the Lord-Celestant’s Furious Retribution Command Ability) you can pile on the extra hurt using this ability and save the rest of your army the trouble of being Blasted to Ashes on a 5+.
The Sepulchral Guard is a niche unit that, in this writer’s opinion, fulfills a very specific role within a Death army in the form of character assassins and backline harassment thanks to the Wraith Fleet’s special rules. The Sepulchral Guard is a nice unit to fill in if you have 80 points left at the end and you have maximised all of your Skeleton Warrior units, with the added bonus of being excellent models which you can use as champions for your Skeleton Warriors if you choose not to take the Guard!
Was this review of the Warscroll helpful? Post your thoughts in the comments and let us know how you might use your Sepulchral Guard to bring death to the enemies of the Great Necromancer.
Come back next week, where we’ll be taking a deeper look into the power of the Waaagh! with Ironskull’s Boyz.