Necromancers and Zombies

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Whiskeyjack, May 7, 2020.

  1. Whiskeyjack Private

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    When I bought the Undead warband, I was sort of hoping that I would be able to swarm my opponents with an army of the dead. Yeah... that was a little optimistic. It was disappointing. It's particularly embarrassing for the Undead when both Skaven and Possessed can better field hordes of weak models.
    Zombies are only good below ~200 rating. Even then, their speed means they might never arrive at the objective even if their AI doesn't cause them to walk back and forth aimlessly. After that, their effectiveness plummets to nothingness in the face of decent WS, armour and multiple attacks.

    A large part of their early usefulness is a result of people underestimating them and attacking them to farm XP only to get bogged down.

    Zombies and Necromantic Magic Details

    The Zombies' stats are:
    Move 4 (but can't run (except when charging))
    Weapon Skill 20
    Strength 30
    Wounds 4
    Initiative 5
    Attacks 1
    Causes Fear
    Like other pets, each model can only have one.


    Necromantic Magic is pretty terrible. So bad that many high-rated Undead gangs mysteriously do not feature a Necromancer. Far worse than Lesser Magic and Prayers of Sigmar. Bear in mind when reading this that the Necromancer's whole turn will probably be casting one of these spells because they have very poor combat abilities. (Barebones Attack and Strength skills, no shooting, Speed skills.)
    Necromancers with the 'best' gear and the +10% spell cast chance skill have a bonus 35% cast chance.
    • Spell of Awakening allows you to resurrect a dead warrior as a zombie (which is kept after the battle). Note that you actually need to get the 'Dead' result on killing a warrior. The odds of even being able to cast this is low, let alone the odds of the zombie doing anything more effective than the other spells here. Cast Chance: 80%-100%
    • Reanimation resurrects the closest out of action zombie or dire wolf. (Supposed to be in an empty space, but that doesn't work.) Not exactly great, but fun. Cast Chance: 60%-100%
    • Call of Vanhel gives a zombie or direwolf within 6 squares a free turn. Really pathetic. Only useful when trying to get zombies to arrive somewhere before the mission ends. Once the zombies are in combat and there's an out of action zombie, there's almost no reason not to cast Reanimation instead. The Necromancer casts a spell to make 1 WS 20 S30 attack. Cast Chance: 50%-100%
    • Death Vision makes the Necromancer cause Fear. At least it's permanent. Yay. Cast Chance: 50%-100%
    • Doom is easily the best spell here. It targets one enemy model within 12 squares. If they fail a Strength check (unclear if two-handed weapons add to this) with a +15 bonus, they are taken out of action regardless of health. Except, it too is hardly great. Like all Necromantic Magic spells, its effectiveness plummets with rating. It works best with only a few opponents where the Necromancer can run around until they inevitably fail their Strength checks. However, Strength becomes high enough that the odds of casting this (at best 75%) and killing the target are extremely low. In larger combats, the spell becomes awkward and difficult to plan around. The Necromancer, on average, will kill a model every 2 to 3 turns. Most Captains can do that as well, just through more traditional and reliable means. Cast Chance: 10%-75%
    • Lifestealer is... nice, I guess. It deals 3-5 unblockable wounds to a target within 6 squares and gives the Necromancer the same number of wounds, which can take them above their maximum. It doesn't work on Possessed or Undead. The cast chance really cripples this spell, leaving it with an average damage of 2.6. It neither damages very much, or heals very much (which is even more useless because of the 0-armour rating sported by Necromancers). Again best at low ratings, but rapidly becomes irrelevant. Cast Chance: 0%-65%

    The gold and skillpoint investment for casting is large but the benefits really are not. Most games, the only reason for the Necromancer to not cast Doom is if no target is within 12 squares.

    Fixes
    So, the Undead are not exactly great. I do recognise that the developers have limited time and that Zombies are never going to be good at high ratings. I'm not suggesting a major reworking of Undead, just trying to make them a little more fun to play.

    Necromantic Magic
    • Change Spell of Awakening to be castable on every appropiate out of action model, but perhaps only occasionally keep the Zombie afterwards. On the other hand, considering the rate at which Zombies die, it might still be fine. The opportunity cost of casting this spell means it will never be good but it could at least be usable.
    • Call of Vanhel is a really dreadful spell. It could affect multiple zombies or be turned into a skill that causes all zombies in an AoE to move, but not be able to attack. Vanhel is doing nothing once Zombies are in attack range and thematically, I think this works better.
    • Death Vision is really underwhelming. It does very little. It feels like an obstacle to better skills. It is just a worse version of the Fear skill in Strength with a larger investment on a weaker model. It could really use a secondary effect such as a leadership penalty for hostile models. Even just a copy of Dread of Aramar would be better.
    • Lifestealer could really use a slightly better cast chance. It struggles to do much, especially with its limited cast range and how it exists in the same lore as Doom. Compared to something like Healing Hands (a 100% chance to restore all wounds with a range of 2) it just looks sad.

    Necromancer Skills
    It would be nice to have skills that just gave a flat benefit to Zombies -- along the lines of WS, S and W improvements; maybe a small Move increase. I don't know if it's possible to implement this, but it would go a long way to making them both more functional. Additionally, a skill that allows a second pet per model would be fun. The Necromancer is hardly spoilt for choice when it comes to good investments for skillpoints.

    Dire Wolves
    I haven't mentioned them very much, but seeing as they go for 50 gold each and are all but certain to die, they are not a good or even sustainable investment. They are only unlocked by the presence of a Vampire -- the extra rating of whom does nothing to help pets.

    Zombies
    Speeding up their walking animation a little would be nice. It's frustrating to watch them mill about uselessly, so they could at least end their turns a little quicker.
    Their AI also really likes hugging cover which, combined with their move, means they go nowhere the whole mission on some maps. They sometimes walk into a corner and straight back out. I'd prefer it if they just moved straight towards the closest hostile model.
  2. Enajien Corporal

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    This is weird to me because I think Zombies are basically the only good pet in the game. Mainly because of Reanimation and Spell of Awakening. The only pet I would bring to a 1000+ rating fight is a zombie. They are amazing vs the AI. Vs players they are not super meaningful but they are in the way, which is good.

    The reason for this is spell of awakening means you can farm zombies and don't need to really pay for them. Then with Reanimation you don't tend to lose them during the fight. Unlike every other pet this makes them very resilient to death. Most pets will die about every third time they are taken ooa. All pets die very easily and since they are AI controlled they charge forward to die even faster. This means if you use a non zombie pet expect to replace it every around 8-10 fights.

    Vs the AI it will always target the easiest thing to hit. Either ranged or with melee. This means zombies absorb attacks very well. Sure they die in 1-2 hits but that is 1-2 less hits your other models are taking. Then your necromancer or vampire brings them back to do it again. This means if you are dealing with a mixed ranged army you can freely move your warriors up in cover while your zombies are out in the open. They take the shots then you charge for a victory. With super strong melee models you can distract them with zombies for awhile. The AI will stay and kill one zombie over and over with their vampire while you kill the rest of the army.

    Necromancy isn't like lesser magic or prayers of sigmar. It's not designed for run out and nuke stuff like lesser magic is or run out and tank all the stuff like prayers are. It's a strong list but you need to change your tactics to support it.
  3. Shangular Brigadier

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    Agree with Enajien you have to play necromancy differently. But I think it works well as is today for the most part. One thing you have to keep in mind is that vampires use it too. So if you buff up certain spells like Lifestealer, it could make a vampire OP. Here's a couple of ways I've used necromancy:

    Doom: obvious uses. But don't under estimate this spell. Yes the odds of it killing a powerful opponent is rare, but it does happen and when it does, it can be a game changer. I've had this spell work on vampires, both for me and against me. Keep your necromancer hidden and let the opponents engage close combat with your warband. Then in a later round, run in and try to one-shot a key target. It's helpful for killing those stupid warlocks who think they can just fly in can take the treasure chest :)

    Lifestealer: If you have a wizard vampire, this spell compliments his attacks perfectly in close combat. With a necromancer, just stick to Doom.

    Death Vision: agree it's not all that helpful, the only purpose is to give Necromancers Fear as they can't get the skill.

    Reanimation: Ok, IMO, the only point of having pets is that they just run out and spot hidden opponents and occasionally getting into close combat with shooters to prevent them from shooting. Don't expect pets (any of them) to do any significant killing. They all suck at that. This spell can be helpful more on direwolves, who will keep up with your warband better than zombies. Other than spotting hidden opponents, constantly reviving an direwolf who was in close combat with an archer for example, will keep that archer from shooting.

    Call of Vanhal is more useful on direwolves.

    Unfortunately, you're right in that if your original expectation was to swarm enemies with Undead, mostly likely won't work well. Perhaps at low levels, but definitely not at high levels.
  4. Jesse Shaffer Major

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    Lifestealer makes me a little sad. I want to hide six dregs named Blood Bag in a corner while my vampire vampirically feeds on them until they only have one health point each. But Shangular is right. Damn it. It's casting chance is low because it's too powerful otherwise and we can't use it on our own guys anymore for the same reason. Still makes me a little sad though as I dream of the irresponsible joy that could be....
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  5. Whiskeyjack Private

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    I realise that Lifestealer would be overpowered at high cast chances, but it really isn't very strong at all at its current cast chance. Part of the healing gained by Lifestealer is offset by the lack of armour. Without a staff, Lifestealer has, at best, a 55% cast chance. I think a 10% cast chance increase would make the spell useful, but still not too strong. Or even just give Necromamcers another rank in the spell.

    Call of Vanhel is better on direwolves, but a WS 30, S 40 attack is nothing to be proud of. Especially not for the gold and skillpoint investment.

    I was under the impression that zombies could still 'die' in the camp even when Reanimated. I'll have to check that.

    Zombies do work best as meatshields. I don't think they even do that very well. They are not particularly sturdy and it's likely that more than one or two will die per turn. Reanimation also comes with the opportunity cost of not casting Doom. Their speed is awful (Call of Vanhel gets at most two zombies moving properly), so for zombies to be relevant to combat, the rest of your gang has to move quite slowly indeed.


    I'm genuinely not sure what tactics you can use to make Necromantic Magic good, other than casting Doom a lot. Multiple Necromantic Magic spells are essentially useless. Cause Fear? Occasionally be able to summon a zombie? Give a pet a free turn? There are certainly situations in which these spells are useful, but even then they are not exactly very useful. Necromantic Magic is quite underwhelming overall.
  6. Enajien Corporal

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    You already said a tactic that makes it better. "The rest of your gang has to move quite slowly indeed." Take a wyrdstone hunt. If it's 2-3 your vampire grabs a shard while the rest of your army follows your zombies. If it's 4 shards also send your necromancer to get a shard. Eventually the enemy will engage the zombies. Now you pick who you counter charge. Leave a zombie on their best model and kill everything else. For example I was fighting a 1000 sisters army with my undead awhile back. I let the 500+ rating matriarch engage a zombie. Then I charged the rest of the sisters with my ghouls and vampire. I just resurrected the zombie every turn and their matriarch just spent the whole fight killing that zombie over and over until I won. If I didn't have zombies she would have killed literally every model she attacked in one turn, including my vampire.
  7. Shangular Brigadier

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    The tactic on using it on direwolves isn't for the wolf to kill the opponent. All pets suck at that, don't expect them to kill for you. This tactic was more to disrupt the opponent's strategy of either revealing hidden warriors or preventing them from shooting.

    All in all, none of the magic spell lists are dominating. Each one has one great spell, a good spell, and situational to useless spells. So Necromancy falls in the same scope. IMO example of each spell tree:

    Lesser Magic:
    • Flight of Zimmermen: Great spell, my favorite in the game alongside Wings of Darkness (which really does the same thing).
    • Luck of Shemtek: Good spell, gives you rerolls which you might as well cast on someone if you have nothing else better to do.
    • Sword of Rehzebel: Can be decent situationally.
    • Arrows of Ahra: Situational, not a good spell due to low probability to hit but at least gives you a chance to hit. 10% is better than 0 right?
    • Fires of Urzul: Fireballs are cool but this one is underwhelming unless targeting a robe wearing target.
    Necromancy:
    • Doom: Great spell. It doesn't always work because otherwise it would be too OP. But when it does, an automatic kill is awesome, Plus doesn't require LOS so put your necromancer behind a building.
    • Lifestealer: situational, good for vampires to help upkeep them in melee with multiple opponents
    • Vanhal: Situational, see my direwolf example above
    • Vision of Torment: Not great, but gives your necromancer fear. Has situational uses at low levels where it could prevent an opponent from charging your necromancer.
    • Renaminmation: Situational, good if you keep reviving a direwolf or zombie that disrupts enemy shooters
    • Spell of Awakening: Situational if it accomplishes the same as Reanimation above
    Sigmar Prayers:
    • Aura of Faith: useless at high levels as most warriors are already immune to fear and psychology
    • Lay on Hands: Great spell to upkeep warriors and unstun ogres.
    • Hammer/Armor spells: Good booster for your priest although more useful for Sister Matriach as she can use speed skills to get into combat. Warrior priest is still slow. But you can't always count on maintain the leadership test. Sometimes it leaves you in a position where is it better to heal someone or retry casting this.
    • Soulfire: Okay, good if you have nothing else better to cast. But again situational, as it is less effective if you're fighting Sisters for example. Possessed has daemon souls to negate and this spell doesn't always hit.
    • Protection from Magic spell: Forgot the actual name, but again situational. Obvisously useless if enemy has no spell casters.
    Skaven:
    • Sorcerer's Curse: Great spell, my favorite in that you lower high defense opponent's defense, ensuring that the target will be dead when your skaven with their 100 attacks hit.
    • Rat Summoning: I actually like this spell as it allows rats to wander forward to help spot hidden enemies or tie them up to prevent them from shooting. This spell isn't great, but can be situationally useful.
    • Black Fury: Theoretically can be good, my problem is that when my Assassin is about to charge, I usually find casting Sorcerer's Curse instead rarely use this.
    • Gnawdoom: Good in that you don't need LOS but typically has underwhelming effects against high defense opponents (which is common at high levels)
    • Eye of Warp: Garbage
    • Warpfire: Situational if enemies are dumb enough to bunch together. Remember this hits your own warriors too.
    Chaos:
    • Wings of Darkness: Great spell! See Flight of Zimmerman above. Great combo if you have the Hoofs mutation.
    • Dark Blood: Good spell in that it seems to ignore armor. Good combo if you have the Black Blood mutation
    • Vision of Torment: Very situational, only good against ogres, warrior priests (who don't have the spell protector on), and Reiklander (non captains) at mid to high levels as everyone else is immune to stun.
    • Lure of Chaos: This one is interesting and is actually a spell where you are better off if you have low initiative. The reason is that the effects automatically wear off at the start of your turn. So if you cast it on an enemy and then next turn your magister activates before it becomes useless. But the problem, is that your magister is better off either using Wings or Dark Blood. Again this one could be situational.
    • Eye of God: Situational but again a gamble as it could take your own warrior out of action. Alternatively, if your despearate, you can cast on the enemy and hopefully one shot them. But again 15% chance.
    • Word of Pain: Not great, at mid to high levels. You'd be better off casting Dark Blood to finish off an enemy or if you're surrounded, use Wings of Darkness to fly out of combat.
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  8. Algirdas25 Major

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    Aura of faith is the spell that grands imune to magic, armor of rightsomething set your def to 880,def cannot drop below 40 , amd grant fearsome
  9. Whiskeyjack Private

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    That is a helpful post on spells as I didn't know what Possessed magic was capable of. I don't know that it helps your point very much though, seeing as how Necromantic Magic has the most situational spells. Minor correction on Prayers of Sigmar: Hearts of Steel grants all your models +10 Leadership and makes friendly models within 8 immune to Fear and All Alone tests. Sisters of Sigmar Novices and Witch Hunter Templars can't become immune to Fear (short of injury) and, if nothing else, Hearts of Steel makes it easier to maintain Hammer of Sigmar and Armour of Righteousness. I still rate it as a good spell.

    Three of Necromantic Magic's spells are concerned with pets only and overlap to a large degree. The situations in which they are useful are similar, and even when the spells are useful, they aren't even very effective. Meanwhile, something like Gnawdoom is only useful against unarmoured opponents, but if there is one, it'll do major damage. Another one of Necromantic Magic's spells is Death Vision, which is perhaps the worst spell in the game. Even Eye of the Warp's terribleness is almost effective-ish against other Skaven and Ghouls.

    Some of Necromantic Magic's best strategies -- tying up powerful warriors with garbage -- only work because of AI wonkiness.

    In the situation where you cast Call of Vanhel on a direwolf and it is the deciding factor in tieing up a shooter:
    1. The direwolf activates after the Necromancer or has already taken its turn (the model it attacked having since been killed) and is within 6 squares.
    2. The shooter is the closest enemy model.
    3. The direwolf would somehow not be able to charge the shooter on its own turn -- the direwolf has already gone, the shooter moving away or a different non-shooter model coming closer.
    4. Your opponent has no decent melee models that can charge the direwolf and kill it before the shooter activates.
    5. Doom is not a better option.

    It definitely can be useful, but it's unlikely.

    Lifestealer on Vampires that use an actual weapon is limited to a 55% cast chance and an expected value of 2.2 wounds worth of damage and healing. The healing might be partly offset by the lack of armour, depending on what you're fighting. The investment to get this extra damage is, at minimum, 5 skill points and 4 Tomes of Necromancy. Side Note: Lifestealer still seems to be castable on your own guys?

    I don't think Necromantic Magic is useless or anything, just unimpressive and significantly worse than the other Lores.
  10. Shangular Brigadier

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    I probably should have summed it up with this: Each warband only has one warrior that can cast spells (unless you get a hired sword). That warrior can only cast one spell per round so in doing so, casting any given spell forgoes the opportunity cost to cast a different one as well as maximizing other options such as charging into combat. My point was simply that in each spell tree there is only 1-2 spells that are worth consistently casting.

    For example, take the ever popular mercenary captain. Mine knows all 6 spells but he only casts Flight or Luck. Hardly ever uses the others. Why? If an enemy is within range of let's say Fire spell, Arrows, Dread of Aramar (I realized I forgot to mention this one above but this spell is crap anyways), if I'm going to attack, I'd be better off using Flight and then charging into combat. Now next round if I'm still in combat, if I plan to stay in melee, I'd use Luck on myself. Otherwise, I'd attack and then use Flight to travel to safety. Either way, I'm really only using 2 spells consistently.

    This is the same for necromancy. I find my Necromancer only using Doom or Lifestealer consistently because of the opportunity cost. Skaven, I only use Sorcerer's Curse and maybe the Rat spell at the very beginning as Curse and charging into combat is more effective than trying to use the Warpfire or Rat carpet spell. Chaos, I only really use Wings of Darkness and Darkblood, same reason.
  11. Enajien Corporal

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    Though prayers don't work that way really... You cast hammer, armour and hearts of steel before you engage. Then you use smite or healing every turn after. Unless you need to put armour or hammer back up. Even aura of faith is good if you have a down turn and they have a caster. But yeah other casters spam 1-2 spells. Though I would add spell of awakening, reanimation and lure of chaos to the list of spells you may pick as your 1-2.

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