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Hexwraiths or Black Knights

Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
11
#1
Building a death army for AoS and need help deciding what to build with my 15 horses. I like the base stats/abilities on the hexwraiths better but the Knights with a necromancer are pretty nice getting the same to wound roll as the wraiths and an extra damage on the turn they charged and the necromancer letting them pile in twice. The knights can also return models to the unit. Is this combo consistent enough to take the lesser unit? Or should I stick with the hexwraiths?
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,117
#2
Well, it's largely dependent on what comp/points system you're using and how they value the two units respectively, but honestly, overall hexwraiths are kinda meh, but black knights are just sorta baddish. They hit like a fistful of feathers, and while they do have recursion from the banner, their durability still isn't great regardless. Formations doesn't help the case for Black Knights either, as the formations that use them are kinda baddish and do little for the knights regardless, while the hexwraiths are part of the actually pretty nice 'heroes of fellblood' formation from the malignants box.

So yeah, all else being equal, of the two options you're looking at, I'd go with the hexwraiths, but even then I'd be hard pressed to field more than 5 to `10 of them.

i mean, as models I greatly prefer the black knights, I like the more armored look and the idea of grave guard cavalry. But gameplay wise they're really more like mounted skeleton warriors, as apparently wights lose all the things that make them good as infantry (good offensive profile with multiple attacks, cursed weapons) as soon as they climb up on a horse.
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
11
#3
Well, it's largely dependent on what comp/points system you're using and how they value the two units respectively, but honestly, overall hexwraiths are kinda meh, but black knights are just sorta baddish. They hit like a fistful of feathers, and while they do have recursion from the banner, their durability still isn't great regardless. Formations doesn't help the case for Black Knights either, as the formations that use them are kinda baddish and do little for the knights regardless, while the hexwraiths are part of the actually pretty nice 'heroes of fellblood' formation from the malignants box.

So yeah, all else being equal, of the two options you're looking at, I'd go with the hexwraiths, but even then I'd be hard pressed to field more than 5 to `10 of them.

i mean, as models I greatly prefer the black knights, I like the more armored look and the idea of grave guard cavalry. But gameplay wise they're really more like mounted skeleton warriors, as apparently wights lose all the things that make them good as infantry (good offensive profile with multiple attacks, cursed weapons) as soon as they climb up on a horse.
Thanks for the reply. The league that I'm in is currently using owund count but we may be switching to the scgt point system. If I want to stick with skeletons am I better off just running grave guard and skeleton warriors then? Do vampires or malignants have an obvious advantage over deathrattle? I was thinking of a quick strike kind of thing adding in some of the morghasts. What other synergies or combos should I look at?
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,117
#4
Vampire and malignant units are both more powerful on their own than deathrattle, but deathrattle has more synergies going, thanks mainly to the fact that you can target them with vanhels, and they like large units of infantry with lots of attacks, which really get the most out of buffs. That, and the wight king with black axe is a tougher small game commander than the vampire lord, while providing a similar command ability, but one that only works for deathrattle units.

Both skeletons (in large units) and grave guard (in medium size units) are fantastic infantry. A bit slow, but slow, and not too tough, but lots of attacks to roll. My usual army revolves around a large block of each, buffed by a wight king commander, a necromancer, and in larger games arkhan the black, and it works alright. SCGT should work well for you with deathrattle stuff.

Also, don't let me scare you too far from black knights. I mean, the tone of disappointment about them you hear from me comes from the fact that I do run them, because I do love deathrattle as a theme, and the models are fantastic. They can be semi durable, and with such a slow army it can occasionally be useful to have something faster that you can run after an objective, but...

But yeah, that durability just evaporates in the face of anything with even the slightest bit of rend, and only one attack on those lances, not even a particularly impressive one, even on the charge, will let you down whenever you try to do anything with them offensively. And while their deathrattle keyword does let you buff them up a bit, unless you're sure they're the only unit seeing combat until your next hero phase, those buffs are almost always better spent on more numerous infantry units.

If you field them, they'll be mostly a vanity unit.


In a wound count situation, things don't change too much. Black knights become a worse deal compared to hexwraiths vs. most points systems. And while they become a better deal compared to skeletons and grave guard, it isn't by enough. Two wounds of Black Knight gets you one forgettable lance attack and 2 lousy horse attacks. Two wounds of skeletons (in a sufficiently large unit) gets you six lousy spear attacks. Two wounds of grave guard gets you 4 good sword attacks or better great weapon attacks (and which is preferable depends entirely on how much rend you see in your most common enemy units).

In a wound count context, Grave Guard are the big winners among deathrattle. Well, grave guard and tomb guard, but getting your hands on the latter is no easy feat. They're only slightly better than grave guard anyway, and even then only for the hand weapon and shield version - if you were going to use great weapons anyway then you're still better off with the grave guard.

I'm rambling. Anyway, in a wound count system grave guard and wight kings with black axes are great, and together form the core of a solid little deathrattle force that will still serve you well in scgt or really most point system contexts.

I gotta go, but I wrote some thoughts about starting deathrattle (along with other themes) over here: LINK, which may or may not be relevant to you.
 

Oppenheimer

Crypt Horror
Joined
May 26, 2013
Messages
556
#5
Immunity to rend is a big deal. Plus the better stats. I would say Hexwraiths over BK. Only drawback is no regen banner. I'm very disappointed in the BK now. Blood knights are a better heavy cavalry.
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
11
#6
Vampire and malignant units are both more powerful on their own than deathrattle, but deathrattle has more synergies going, thanks mainly to the fact that you can target them with vanhels, and they like large units of infantry with lots of attacks, which really get the most out of buffs. That, and the wight king with black axe is a tougher small game commander than the vampire lord, while providing a similar command ability, but one that only works for deathrattle units.

Both skeletons (in large units) and grave guard (in medium size units) are fantastic infantry. A bit slow, but slow, and not too tough, but lots of attacks to roll. My usual army revolves around a large block of each, buffed by a wight king commander, a necromancer, and in larger games arkhan the black, and it works alright. SCGT should work well for you with deathrattle stuff.

Also, don't let me scare you too far from black knights. I mean, the tone of disappointment about them you hear from me comes from the fact that I do run them, because I do love deathrattle as a theme, and the models are fantastic. They can be semi durable, and with such a slow army it can occasionally be useful to have something faster that you can run after an objective, but...

But yeah, that durability just evaporates in the face of anything with even the slightest bit of rend, and only one attack on those lances, not even a particularly impressive one, even on the charge, will let you down whenever you try to do anything with them offensively. And while their deathrattle keyword does let you buff them up a bit, unless you're sure they're the only unit seeing combat until your next hero phase, those buffs are almost always better spent on more numerous infantry units.

If you field them, they'll be mostly a vanity unit.


In a wound count situation, things don't change too much. Black knights become a worse deal compared to hexwraiths vs. most points systems. And while they become a better deal compared to skeletons and grave guard, it isn't by enough. Two wounds of Black Knight gets you one forgettable lance attack and 2 lousy horse attacks. Two wounds of skeletons (in a sufficiently large unit) gets you six lousy spear attacks. Two wounds of grave guard gets you 4 good sword attacks or better great weapon attacks (and which is preferable depends entirely on how much rend you see in your most common enemy units).

In a wound count context, Grave Guard are the big winners among deathrattle. Well, grave guard and tomb guard, but getting your hands on the latter is no easy feat. They're only slightly better than grave guard anyway, and even then only for the hand weapon and shield version - if you were going to use great weapons anyway then you're still better off with the grave guard.

I'm rambling. Anyway, in a wound count system grave guard and wight kings with black axes are great, and together form the core of a solid little deathrattle force that will still serve you well in scgt or really most point system contexts.

I gotta go, but I wrote some thoughts about starting deathrattle (along with other themes) over here: which may or may not be relevant to you.

Great link!! I was curious about the skeletons with spears vs swords though, the spear stats aren't as good. Is the assumption that with the hero near the unit it hits at 50/50 anyway with an extra 1" reach?
 

Leithel

Grave Guard
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
286
#7
If you ask me, as a non AoS player (not sure if that counts), you should put together the model that you like more. Battle is fun, but this game (AoS, 9th, KoW or otherwise) is more about the hobby and a model you're oging to enjoy assembling, painting and playing with is more important to me than how they perform.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,117
#8
Re: spears. Skeletons in small units are terrible. Skeletons in huge units, however, get so many terrible attacks that they're actually good. In such huge units, the extra range from spears will give you enough more models swinging that the maths should come out in their favor vs. the better stat line on the swords.

Re: just play what you want. I mean, yeah, sure, I practically said as much when I said I run black knights anyway, and just accept them as a vanity unit. But you're in the tactics subforum, in a thread about comparative usefulness, so... see where I'm going here?


Anyway, most of the discussion from me here has been about black knights. Hexwraiths, though, right? Hexwraiths have ethereal and fly, making them semi-tough, super maneuverable, and an excellent target for arcane shield, if not quite as excellent a target as spirit hosts. Their attacks aren't great, but aren't terrible, either. The flyby attack is a gimmick, if you field hexwraiths you'll almost always be better off forgetting it exists rather than looking for ways to use it. Remember, you have to start and end your movement more than three inches from enemy models, so it's uncommon to be positioned exactly right before you start a move that you could even do it, and if you do it's only a 1/6 chance per wraith of wounding anyway. really not worth your time. I mean, by all means roll the attacks if it comes up, but don't go out of your way chasing them when the wraiths will do more damage just charging in.

Again, their regular attacks are all right, and with their speed and flight you can send them after reclusive targets. They can also serve as a buffer to keep enemy units off of faster targets. I've once or twice used them to block charge routs to arkhan, for instance.

The best thing they have going is the Spirits of Fellblood, the Malignants box formation, consisting of them, a mortis engine, and a unit of spirit hosts, which lets you redeploy either the wraiths or the hosts near the mortis engine each turn. Run them as a combat screen for some other unit, then recall them to make room for the unit they were screening to charge in. Deploy them on one side of the field, then later, after the opponent has deployed their counters, deploy the mortis engine somewhere else and recall them in the first turn. Heck, you can even pull them out of combat into flyover position, then charge them back in after trying for the lucky wingover attacks.

I mean, most of that stuff is things the spirit hosts will do the same but better, but the wraiths are part of the formation to, so you might as well get tricksy with them.


Hexwraiths still aren't an amazing unit. They aren't blood knights, or spirit hosts with arcane shield, or grave guard with the black axe's command buff and vanhels. But they're alright, and they won't leave you quite so frustrated & disappointed as black knights will, if that's something you're worried about.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
32
#9
My take on the benefits of Black Knights:
  • Thematic benefits. You haven't got a TRUE Deathrattle Horde without them! Plus, they look awesome.
  • If you are using the Warscroll Battalions, you may need Black Knights to fill the requirement.
  • Buffing them with Vanhel's, and Lord of Bones, gives you a very mobile unit that hits like a truck if it charges.
  • They have some staying power with the banner (and the Legion of Death Battalion ability if used).
  • They are one of only a few units that can back out of combat easily if required.
  • The above combined with scenarios that are objective based gives them more value, particularly if using comp packs, which will likely have Black Knights as cheaper than Hexwraiths.
All that said, Hexwraiths win out on a model-for-model comparison. Both are easy enough to summon after all, so having both unit types up your sleeve is handy. I personally follow the rule of cool; go with the models you like (because you have to paint them and look at them forever), and then find a way to make them work tactically.
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Messages
63
#10
hex wraiths can use the hit ability if they retreat right? making them and hit retreat hit model like hit and hold, let some one else charge then retreat(get attacks) then charge again, I am new to sigmar and I really want to play VC so I am trying to understand how to use them as much as I can
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,117
#12
Keep in mind, though, that you don't retreat during combat. You wouldn't get to retreat until your next movement phase, and when you do you give up the ability to charge that turn, and trade their multiple starting attacks for a single inferior flyby attack per model that only hits on sixes. It's nice to have that chance of damage if you were going to retreat anyway, but it's not really a tactic to exploit otherwise.
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2012
Messages
63
#13
I imagen that its handy thou, I don't see wraiths as crowd control but being able to charge something hold it so something else can charge then "retreat" towards your next target and still get SOMETHING is one of those things that this unit and only this unit can do. for example I saw a video bat rep recently that pitted two necromancer per team agents each other(custom I know but it illustrates my thoughts.) the hex wraiths were blocked and could not get to the necromancer, and this technique could have allowed them to bypass the blocking unit and get to the softer hero. especially sense the wraiths are fast and can go over enemies. just my thinking for them. and I want to love black knights I love the idea of them. but every report I have ever seen of them just doesn't preform. I would think that like most units in VC/TK they need buffing to reach a real powerhouse status, but even then they apparently don't preform.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
11
#14
When playing wound count based battles, Black Knights are just bad.
The big battalion is also pretty rubbish as it requires you to take 3 units of skeletons when you actually want just one big one.
What actually is quite good though is the tiny battalion you get in the skeleton starter pack:
Arkhan
1 x Black Knights
1 x Skeleton Warriors
gets you a free 4" move in the hero phase for your units in the Battalion that are within 9" of Arkhan (including Arkhan).

This is actually really good as it lets you take that massive unit of skeletons and move it forward much faster for only a slight tax in the form of the Black Knights. Then take Krell or a Wight King with Black Axe as the general and a necromancer and watch any unit that gets in range be torn to shreds.

In general though, this is the only reason I would take black knights in a wounds based game.

Hexwraiths are muuuuch better. They can get forwards quickly and block dangerous enemy units effectively (unlike Black Knights which die too quickly.
 

Malisteen

Master Necromancer
True Blood
Joined
Sep 23, 2009
Messages
2,117
#15
The problem with that is that krell / WKwBA don't get the extra movement and quickly fall behind. Along with the rest of your battle line - skeletons get a lot of swings, but they're super fragile, let an opponent get a bunch of models in to swing at them, and those skeletons are going to fall apart.

Frankly, I think you're better off dropping the superfluous black knights and just keeping your skittles in formation with your other infantry.
 
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
360
#16
I agree - meh vs baddish lol

I would make black knights, paint them red and call them skeletal blood knights...

Hexwraiths are entirely disappointing. Mortal wound on a freaking 6? It should be an auto-mortal wound imo. How does a wraith move through a unit and miss them? For their other attacks, its just a load of whiff. Basically you can use them as mini anvils, they get where they need to be quickly, so 5 of them can tie up a monster with a few heavy rending attacks for a very long time.

Black knights fill a similar role of quick chaff. In a proper comp system you would get 10 of them and so you have a nice chunk that is regenerating. Even on the charge their lances would break on contact with a wet noodle, you wont ever kill anything with them ever. Thematically they are grave guard with speed but instead they are worse than even skeleton warriors.

GW really dropped the ball with this the rules for this kit.
 
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