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Tutorial How can Lizardmen beat Nagash?

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    It’s been a loooong time since I wrote a Tactica for 8th edition. We covered all the basics, so I"m going to write this one on an extremely obscure topic.

    So I've been working on expanding my undead collection and I briefly pondered buying my own Nagash and my conscience/common sense spoke to me...Are you mahrlect crazy! After the Kickstarter pledge you don't get to buy anything other than paint or glue until 2020!

    Nagash is still on my mind. Just academically, I'm curious if Lizardmen can take Nagash down? What I'm basically wondering, is Nagash overpowered or he is appropriately priced for 20 Kroxigors.

    It got me thinking though. How would you tailor a list against Nagash? He is very very powerful, but he also costs the points value of 20 Kroxigors.

    Recap of what Nagash can do.

    So Nagash has 6 M, 6 Initiative and 6 attacks. 10 Ld (naturally), 10 wounds, and 7 in everything else. Not bad, but he's not a fighter. He's a caster.

    Lesser Powers:
    -He's a level 5 caster. Neat, but not game breaking.
    -He flies of course.
    -He can store up to four power dice to use in later phases, and use these dice to exceed six dice on a casting roll. He can also use these stored dice to upgrade melee attacks to heroic killing blow. Generally the power dice are more useful but if Nagash expects to say fight an Oldblood on a Carnosaur this would become a useful secondary ability.
    -His magic weapon bestows +1 strength and d3 wounds.
    -He reduces crumble to nearby undead units within 12 inches much like an undead BSB.
    -4+ armor and ward save.
    -He can reroll miscasts he doesn't like, but he has to always take the second result.

    Magic: What Really Counts

    He has nine spells, rather than five. One of them is always Rzye. He can roll his other eight spells from Undeath, Lore of Vampires, Death, Light, and Lore of Nehekhara.

    His summoning spells from the Lore of Undeath have their points value tripled. Tripled.

    Also, instead of the usual limitation that the entire unit must fit within normal deployment rules within 12 inches of the caster is scrapped. Nagash has a summoning radius of 36 inches, that means you cannot prevent him from summoning large units by crowding him with chaff units.

    The weakest version of Ryze lets Nagash throw down 100 zombies. That's basically an insurmountable tarpit to most things we have. If you want more details for the horrific things Nagash can summon, a Carpe Noctem forumite named Demian wrote a detailed guide to maximizing summoining options for Undead Legions army, with or without Nagash.

    Two Strategies to Respond to Nagash

    Well there are really two ways to go about fighting Nagash. 1) Throw everything you have at Nagash and try to take him out. In most cases defeating Nagash is an auto-win.

    2) Avoid Nagash as much as possible, and try to use your (presumably) superior numbers to overwhelm his non-summoned units and kill 1000 points more of the undead than the undead can Lizardmen.

    Too many summoned units and you cannot even reach Nagash to try option one. Too many summoned units and you lose the strength of numbers to try out option two.

    A level 5 caster casing attack and healing spells is nasty but only his summoning spells are augmented to insane levels. Otherwise he is just a regular caster. Regardless of what option you take. You probably want to load up on lots of dispelling magical items and Slann powers and prioritizing stopping his summoning spells. Don’t bother trying dispel his spells that are not summoning spells unless the spell in question is Purple Sun of Xeres or Nagash is using the last of his power dice.

    How to Kill Nagash?

    WS 7, T7 4+ armor and ward save. 10 wounds to claw through.

    Unless you got weighted dice to always roll "6"s it's very hard to take down Nagash without Strength 6 or Strength 7 attacks. That means Kroxigor and Saurus heroes. An Ancient Stegadon is not hopeless, but you should not charge such a dinosaur into Nagash unless Nagash is already badly wounded or you are making a Hail Mary play.

    If Nagash were say to fight against 20 Kroxigors, the Kroxigors have the edge if Nagash gets no spells off and the Kroxigor had hit him from at least three sides to maximize attacks, the Kroxigors will probably win. Alternatively, a smaller pack of Kroxigors can take down if you can layer some nice defensive magic on them. Mathhammer states that you need 84 Kroxigor attacks (counting predatory fighter bonus attacks) to bring him down. That means you need about 19 or 20 Kroxigor/combat rounds to bring Nagash down. The hard part is getting a bunch of Kroxigor into combat with a model that can summon roadblocks with relative ease.

    The problem is Nagash usually has an army and he can certainly throw roadblock units out. If say you had three units of six Kroxigor, I'm betting a competent general can keep two of them away from Nagash. The six Kroxigor that make it will only wound Nagash a little bit before being wiped out. Then Nagash will slowly heal himself back up with the two or three non-Undeath spellls he has from the Lore of Vampires or Nehekhara.

    Nagash will beat a Saurus on a Carnosaur but the odds become more favorable if you have two Saurus on Carnosaurs. Even with full magic item load-outs, that's still less points than Nagash. While you won't need 84 attacks like with Kroxigor, the downside of using Carnosaurs is that 20 Kroxigor have a lot more wounds to absorb enemy attacks than a Carnosaur has and Heroic killing blow is a lot scarier. Nagash can probably kill a Carnosaur and its rider after two rounds of combat. Don't forget Nagash can make a small magic phase sacrifice for some Heroic Killing Blows, but he still needs 6s to pull that off. You have to take Nagash out quickly or you won't take him out at all.

    Maybe the best option is Saurus Scar Veterans. For the cost of Nagash you can have 9 Saurus Cowboys with great weapons and have a few points left over. Sure Nagash can swat them away like flies, but these suckers are cheap (comparatively) are fast and have small foot prints making them harder for Nagash to fend off with summoned units.

    My advice is to take all three. Kroxigor, Carnosaurs, and Saurus Scar Veterans. Throw them all at Nagash and see what sticks. The nice thing is that even if these units don't reach Nagash, they can put the hurting on most other things in the Legion of Undeath army so they aren't wasted points if they don't reach their priority target.

    Slann Magic

    Nagash is the most powerful caster in all Warhammer. I would focus my magic on defense, not offense. This is constant whether you are planning to assassinate Nagash or avoid Nagash.

    Unless Nagash is down to one or two wounds, it is pretty foolhardy to try to take Nagash down with direct damage or magic missiles.

    The single best anti-Nagash spell is Arcane Unforging. Docking Nagash of even one of his magic items will either take away his heroic killing blows and ability to bank power dice, take away his ward save, take away 4 of his 9 spells, or take away his d3 wound causing sword. (Ideally you want to dock his spells but you have little control over that).

    If you are playing with High Magic, you want to swap a spell out for some Lore of Death snipes and/or Searing Doom if you can. This won't kill Nagash by itself, but it's a reasonable gamble to try to snipe Nagash if he is already severely wounded or one round away from being charged by your high Strength units.

    If you don't want High Magic, the best anti-Nagash lore is Metal. The Slann would be wounding Nagash on 4+ which is better than anything else we have.

    Mazdamundi versus Nagash would be appropriate fluffwise. If I wanted to fight Nagash with Mazdamundi, I would take Lore of Shadow. I would not take Shadow without Lord Mazdamundi’s beloved Lore Mastery. I want both Withering and Okkam's Mind Razor. Both of these spells will let ordinary Saurus or Temple Guard bring down Nagash. If i cannot have both of these potent spells, I don't want to mess with Shadow and if I have a regular level four caster, I probably won't get both.

    Remember wizards who successfully cast a Shadow spell can swap places with another character of the same type. Lord Mazdamundi is normally riding Zlaaq making his type “Monster.” If you mess up and Nagash charges Mazdamundi (or you cunningly bait Nagash into charging Mazdamundi deliberately in a "Hail Mary" play), you can use Smoke and Mirrors to swap Maz with a Carnosaur riding Saurus.

    How to Avoid Nagash?

    I'm not the best redirector, but I'll play some theoryhammer. The first step to avoidance is to try to dispel every summoning spell Nagash attempts.

    Using Skink Skirmishers as redirectors to keep denying Nagash from your juicy targets is a good second step. You probably want to focus on M6/7 troops so you can control the tempo of the fight and take out the non-Nagash parts of the army quickly.

    The holy grail of Nagash avoidance is to get Nagash stuck in a 100+ Cohort Skinks near your Slann general/BSB and hold him up all game, but he's a flyer so the odds of him walking into a tarpit is wishful thinking.

    To play avoidance with Nagash best, you probably need to act like you are trying to kill Nagash and keep him flying away from you.

    Nagash has an army however small, You Have to fight the army too.

    Temple Guard (and Lizardmen core) can handle most undead infantry, and Kroxigor have the monsters handled if they can pick the fights they want. But this leaves one gaping vulnerability: Ethereal units.

    You probably want to give most of your Saurus characters a cheap magic item so they can kill ethereals.If you are taking High Magic you’ll want some Skink priests to aim magic missiles. If you are taking the Lore of Shadows or Metal, you don’t have magic missiles that will work on unarmored units. That means you probably what take a secondary caster with ranged magic attacks (Tet is cheap), or some Solardons.

    If you have points to spare, a Skink chief on a flyer with a magic weapon and/or the Egg of Quango can remove some ethereals from the table.

    Army Size

    Nagash can summon 300-600 points of additional units a turn if you cannot dispel his summons. In theory he can summon 1000 points if he rolls lots of power dice and you are very bad at dispelling. Effectively, the smaller point the game, the more powerful Nagash is. His summoning prowess is much more potent in a 2000 point game than 10,000 point game.

    In a smaller point game you cannot squeeze in as many dispel generating items. In my opinion, the smaller the points size of the game, the more imperative it is to kill Nagash since it's harder to play an avoidance strategy.

    2000 points

    You have to kill Nagash, or you will lose.

    If you want a hero slugfest, take Mazdamundi (and lore of Shadow) and a Scarnosaur. Take minimum Core and fill up the rest of your points with Temple Guard and Kroxigors. Then pray.

    Otherwise I would probably take a vanilla Slann with Becalming Cognition, Focus of Mystery, and Harmonic Convergence. You want one or two Skink Priests. Take minimum Core and fill up the rest of your points with Kroxigor, Saurus cowboys, and maybe a Stegadon (to back up your Core against the non-Nagash parts of the army)

    3000 points

    I still think you have to kill Nagash, or you will lose. You just have a little bit more wiggle room to make mistakes.

    I would take the same strategies from above. 3000 point army with Mazadmundi should probably take two Carnosaurs.

    A more balanced, less hero heavy army, I'd basically use the exact same strategy as with 2000 points, only with more.

    4000+ points

    At 4000 points you can take Nagash WITHOUT the End Times optional rule allowing you to spend 50% of your points on Lords. Let us assume for academic purposes that both players in a 4000 point End Times magic do not want to push the envelope with absurd proportions of the points spent on characters. Maybe they'll go above 25% but probably not by much.

    Avoidance is possible, but I still think killing Nagash is your best bet rather than avoidance.

    Traditional Army, 4000+ points

    I like Kroxigor. In a 4000 point game against Nagash, I feel confident taking around 1000 points worth of Kroxigor. Maybe three units of seven. Okay, the odds of getting 21 Kroxigor into close combat with Nagash is pretty low, but they do project a threat. And Kroxigor can destroy big monsters and big monsters generally make up the most popular Special and Rare choices in an Undead Legion.

    Unless you have the lore of Shadow, fighting Nagash with Temple Guard is a bad idea. But it just so happens that a Slann bunker of Temple Guard, will be able to beat up most of the things that will stop a Kroxigor in its tracks. High Magic is probably good. Walk Between Worlds is your life preserver in a deadly sea. You don’t want your Kroxigors fighting infantry if you can help it. Throw in some Saurus characters either on Cold Ones or Carnosaurs to taste.

    If you have points left over you want an anti-tarpit unit (and you will face tarpits). Saurus Warriors with a support of Stegadons or Bastiladons. A Bastiladon within range of your general and/or BSB can tie up most undead tarpits single handedly.

    Two Slann Army versus Nagash, 4000+ points

    I think a two Slann army is your best bet to perform an avoidance strategy. It can work with a Kill Nagash strategy too, but you probably need to spend the bulk of your points on heroes and Lords to pull this off. I think I'd rather play two Slann at 4000 points than one.

    You get a fun option. Mazdamundi and a regular Slann, or two regular Slann. Lets start with Maz, who brings lore mastery to the table in any lore. In most cases you want to pair Maz with a Slann with Focus of Mystery. The advantage of this is that you can field TWO Lord Masters and know exactly what spells you’ll have.

    If you take two regular Slann you first off save some points but what’s probably more useful is that you can take more magic items and have more freedom to choose disciplines.

    Either way you’ll need some Skink priests to serve as arcane vassals. You’ll probably spend more than 1000 points on characters. I'd be happy to read a counter proposal, but I don't see the Lore of Fire, Light,

    Shadow and High Magic

    Use Arcane Unforging every round to try to dock Nagash his magic items, your opponent will probably prioritize dispelling, but that’s not a bad thing. Your second favorite spell is probably Walk Between Worlds. A good way to partially counter the battlefield control Nagash’s summoning spells. You don’t want to go too crazy swapping out High Magic, but I would recommend the signature spells of the Lore of Metal (to wound Nagash on a 4+) and Light (to blast undead chaff because )

    If you take out Nagash’s ward save, you

    You want to try to hem in Nagash with as many of your anti-Nagsh units (Kroxigor, Saurus cowboys, Carnosaurs, and any unit augmented with Okkam’s Mindrazor.

    Metal and High Magic

    Your favorite two spells are still Arcane Unforging and Walk Between worlds.

    Basically you are trying to soften Nagash up as much as possible so you can take down Nagash with an inferior unit. Your first High Magic swaps should be for Lore of Death or perhaps a second use of Searing Doom. This will give your more spells to spam attacking Nagash with.

    High Magic and High Magic

    Your favorite two spells are still Arcane Unforging and Walk Between worlds. Now you have two of each. Except maybe Soul Quench, every other High Magic spell you manage to cast should probably be swapped out. Searing Doom of course will soften up Nagash a bit. Then I don’t, Light for the Exorcism power unless battle field conditions demand another lore.

    High Magic and Wandering Deliberations

    Your favorite two spells are still Arcane Unforging and Walk Between worlds. Beyond these two spells, you focus on your magic missiles. Lone monsters, use the lore Death. Ethereal chaff use the Light signature spell. You need an extra spell to seal the deal on a wounded unit after you hit with Death or Light, Fireball or Walk Between.

    Shadow and Light

    You risk not getting the spells you want because at most you get one Lore Master, but your units will be extremely potent with all the buffs and hexes. Probably want to build your army around a small number of very large units. You better be very good with your dispel dice, because your plan is basically to muscle in on Nagash with brute force. Good luck…

    What about End Times magic rules?

    This Tactica has a primer on this. There’s a lot to absorb, but the big deal here is that Nagash will have all Undeath spells, all Lore of Vampire spells, all Lord of Nehekhara spells, all of the Lore of Light spells, and all the Lore of Death spells.

    What does that mean in practical terms. Nagash is going to have four summoning spells, making it difficult to dispel them all.

    With the Lore of Vampires, he can heal damage on himself and his minions.

    The Lore of Nehekhara is not especially dangerous as a whole but Ptra's Incantation of Righteous Smiting is brutal when bubbled over several melees. On the off chance Nagash is leading and army made up of mostly Tomb Kings units, he will probably use Ptra's Incantation to help his shooting phases.

    The big concern with Death is of course Purple Sun. Especially since it would yield bonus power dice which of course could be used on more summoning spells or Lore of Vampire healing spells or Ptra's Incantation of Righteous Smiting.

    The Lore of Light is not super impressive against offensively, but Nagash can buff critical units. WS10 zombies are no fun to claw through. He can buff himself too, but his stats are so high already, it barely makes a difference.

    This sounds intimidating but the same rules that make Nagash stronger makes Slann stronger too. If you start out with a Wandering Deliberations Slann, then that Slann will start out with all seven spells from all eight BRB lores.

    If you take a High Magic Slann, even without Focus of Mystery, you start out with all eight High Magic spells and every spell you “swap out” comes back immediately. Every spell you swap in comes with every single spell in the lore. If you do take Focus of Mystery (or Mazdamundi chooses High magic), you can get all these free spells AND re-roll failed High Magic spells. That’s my vote, you want to do. If you are playing a game with End Times magic, with or without Nagash, a Slann with Focus of Mystery is probably the most competitive choice.

    After you have cast nine High Magic spells successfully, your Slann now has all spells in the Lizardmen book, BRB, and the Lore of Undeath (though trying to fight Nagash with the Lore of Undeath is a little silly).

    Nagash gets a huge boon with End Times magic rules, but so do the Slann, IF you take High Magic or Wandering Deliberations. If you don’t, you are fighting at a handicap though I do think a Shadow and Light Slann would be effective since you get all 14 spells ideal anti-Nagash spells (plus whatever you Skink priests have). 14 spells is probably enough. Even under optimal conditions you only really cast ten spells a phase in all likelihood.

    And the Rest...

    I put forth the hypothesis that the best way to kill Nagash with Lizardmen is with Saurus characters and Kroxigor and tooled up Slann.

    Who knows many you don’t know your opponent is fielding Nagash. Even if you know ahead of time you are fighting Nagash, no plan survives contact with the enemy, you might have to fend off Nagash with something less than ideal. So what if we have to make due with something subpar?

    Skink shooting is a good way to take out high toughness monsters. If the Skinks are cornered and are going to die anyway, they might as well try to plink Nagash on the way out. Otherwise with Nagash’s dual 4+ saves, it’s probably not a good idea to deliberately send Skinks at Nagash unless he is badly wounded (ideally after losing his ward save due to Arcane Unforging).

    Razordon and Salamander shooting would be even less effective against Nagash. I’m not sure Salamanders would even be useful against the rest of the army. Nagash can probably create new infantry faster than Salamanders can burn them.

    Stegadons have good impact hits, but after the initial impact hits, they aren’t likely to get a wound off against Nagash.

    Saurus will not put wounds on Nagash any better than Cohort Skinks can unless they are magically augmented.

    A Bastiladon with the Solar Engine MIGHT be able to wound Nagash but you are better to use them to clear chaff or as anti-tarpit units unless Nagash is badly wounded from other things, then go nuts.

    I put forth my hypothesis that the magic best used against Nagash is Shadow, High Magic, and Metal. What about the other lores?

    The Lore of Fire is near useless. Strength 4 hits do next to nothing against Nagash and even massed hits, you cannot inflict wounds faster than Nagash can regrow units in most cases. But few Lizardmen players take Fire.

    The Lore of Light is not useless. You can boost the statlines of your fighting units or you can use Light of Battle to make your chaff units unbreakable. The hard part will be the enemy's superior mobility. Nagash can fly so he can summon units almost anywhere. Light cannot counter that.

    Death can help snipe monsters and the like, but the range is too short to depend on the Lore of Death to beat Nagash, at least by itself.

    The Lore of Beasts spells that buff friendly characters are not enough to let our characters stand toe-to-toe against Nagash though the signature spell is useful. If you get Wyssan's cast, you can make your Kroxigor strike with Strength 8, your Temple Guard with Strength 6. Not bad, but you still have to maneuver your strongest units into combat with Nagash to uses this.

    Heavens is a good secondary lore. You aren't going to take Nagash down with Heavens attack spells, but lets say your Slann, Kroxigor and Saurus characters softened up first. Then it's a good time to have your Skinks hit Nagash with lightning. I wouldn't fault anyone who took Tetto'ekko and a Slann against Nagash. But Tet alone? Not sufficient.

    I really like the Lore of Undeath, but the using the Lore of Undeath and I really enjoy battles where both sides wield the Lore of Undeath, but using the Lore of Undeath against Nagash is almost laughable. They are just as difficult for Slann to cast as Nagash but Nagash's spells are three times stronger.

    What About Arkhan?

    Arkhan, Nagash most powerful and loyal lieutenant costs about 2/3 what Nagash does. His base statline is only slightly weaker and his magical items and special aiblities are very similar. The main difference is he is only a level four caster and his Undeath summoned unites are only doubly potent, not triply potent. With only four spells, he is probably not going to get all four summoning spells unless he is a really lucky roller or you are playing with End Times magic rules.

    The basic principles are the same. You want to prioritize stopping his summoning spells and you need lots of High Strength attacks to kill him. The good news is he is going to have fewer spells than Nagash, and his summoning spells while dangerous, are not game breaking. An Arkhan avoidance strategy is probably more feasible than a Nagash avoidance strategy
  2. Killer Angel
    Skink Priest

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

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    I'm afraid I am not much of a proponent of the whole End Times campaign. I never read any of the books and I never implemented any of their characters or rules (other than the 50% Lords & Heroes) in any of my games.
  4. Killer Angel
    Skink Priest

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    sounds pretty much the same i did. :p
    NIGHTBRINGER likes this.
  5. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Well I really like the Lore of Undeath. It's great because it lets me use my beloved Lizardmen and my small Vampire Counts army together. But yeah, I haven't seen much reason to use the rest of the End Times rules. I just thought I'd do this tactica for nostalgia.

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