Faction Pack Overview: Soulblight Gravelords – Age of Sigmar Fourth Edition

A thank you to Games Workshop for sending us these rules and the Skaventide box set to be able to cover and review. Over the coming weeks, and with the benefit of having played dozens of games, we will be having faction experts provide insight into how they are building and running lists with these factions. For this overview we’re looking at what stands out for the faction, how much has changed, and how we would approach dealing with some of the common threats that are present in all wargames.

Army Rules

These abilities are split between movement, healing and resurrection. Notably, gravesites are no longer a thing and your Deathrattle and Deadwalker units can now be deployed from terrain features (that’s both arriving from reserve or getting recycled via Endless Legions). This is honestly a nice quality of life change for both players and puts a rest to the silliness that could happen in the mirror. Endless Legions itself going back to the old Legions of Nagas style command point rather than being a dice roll is also a huge quality of life change for the army, watching players fail that roll turn after turn was always painful.

Battle Formations

Legion of Shyish

You get to pick four targets for Deathly Invocation rather than three. This feels a bit too specific for a whole battle formation, as you’re trying to cram a fourth unit into a wholly within 12” bubble. There are some big bases out there for Soulblight, so perhaps a Nagash or Vampire Lord on Zombie dragon surrounded by minions could make use of this. That being said, it also requires you to have four units that are damaged to be worth healing in the first place, and most players prefer to focus fire, especially against Soulblight.

Bacchanal of Blood

There’s always a ‘disengage brain, throw vampires at problem’ build for the army and here it is: +1 to cast for vampires not in combat, +1 to wound for vampires that made a charge move. Cast bonuses are always good, Blood Knights wounding on a 2+ are good. Not a subtle one.

Deathstench Drove

At the end of each turn you can pick 3 Deadwalker units that are in combat, they can make a pile-in move and then do d3 mortal damage if they make a 2+ on the d3. If you are doing a big blocks of zombies and dogs build this is really really good. End of turn abilities happen before determining who controls the objectives, even in your opponents turn. Free movement and free damage will flip tightly contested objectives.


Deathrattle units get +1 rend if they charge and the unit they’re attacking has fewer models. Two conditions to get the buff is annoying, but you’re in control of being able to set it up (for the most part) and if you can get it working you’re looking at rend 2 on Black Knights and Grave Guard. Regular skeletons just don’t have the stats to be great in a fight, but any rend is welcome.

Heroic Traits

Lash of the Sire

In your hero phase you can pick a friendly unit in combat range and they can either make a d6” move or pile-in, depending on if they’re in combat or not. Hero phase pile-ins are maybe less valuable than they used to be, but a free d6” move is a bit like a free run and charge. The only issue really is to keep using it you need to keep very tight to your unit. 

Unbending Will

A Deadwalkers or Deathrattle unit wholly within 12” gets +d6 control. You might be noticing a design pattern here of zombies wanting to stand on objectives. Standing on objectives wins you games.

Unhinged Rampager

Re-roll charges for the unit with this. I see you, vampire build players, putting this on you Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon. If your plan is to be in combat hitting things, any source of charge bonus or re-roll is invaluable.

Artefacts of Power

Orb of Enchantment

A once per battle ability, which never feels great, but it does give a target enemy hero strikes-last. Matchup and meta dependent. If we’re in god monster & herohammer town, getting a free turn of freedom in trying to kill them first is great. If the enemy heroes are all goblin wizards sat at the back, this is useless.

Amulet of Screams

This is very good. Still a bit matchup dependent but less so, every time an enemy wizard casts a spell within 18” you roll a d3 and do that much damage on a 2+. Also, if this kills the target the spell fails. If your opponent is running wizards, and god forbid they have multiple casts, this puts them in a bind: not casting spells makes the model a lot less useful, but cast too many spells and they’re going to explode. I like it a lot.

Shard of Night

Ignore positive and negative modifiers to save rolls against shooting. A classic, and yet again an ability that is matchup and meta dependent. Given the lower power level of shooting across this edition I would rate this ability the lowest (though, as always, there will be times it will be amazing).

Vampire Lord. Credit: Rich Nutter

Spell Lores

All the spells cast on a 7, which does make Bacchanal of Blood a more attractive offering.

Vile Transference – Unlimited 

Pick an enemy not-wholly 18” away and roll a d6 for every model in the unit, on a 6 do a mortal and then if any models are killed the caster heals d3. This edition has a lot of anti-horde spells like this, and this one is on the weaker end for only dealing damage on a 6. The healing is nice but to be likely to get value out of it vs one wound models you’re looking to target units of 10+ and vs two wound models you’re looking for 15+, which feels like a stretch for that kind of unit. Really situational, unless you believe in your ability to roll 6s.

Prison of Grief

12” of strike-last until the end of your next turn. Strike-last is fantastic and the effect lingering can set up some brutally poor double turns for your opponent. 

Waste Away

Another 12” range debuff, this time reducing the target unit’s melee damage characteristic by 1, but just for that turn. This is also an incredible debuff and absolutely cripples some hammer units. Given the ranges are the same and that this effect does not linger, whether this or Prison of Grief is the best spell to cast is going to vary from situation to situation. Prison wants to go on targets you are looking to kill or debuff for future turns. Waste Away’s use case is more towards reducing the output of units you are looking to tie up with your weaker chaff that is unlikely to kill them.

Warscroll Spotlights

Neferata is an interesting utility piece for an army going down the board control route. She packs a 6” aura of -1 to hit for your units and has a spell that targets non-monster (so no more buffing the Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon) units and has them ignore any save modifiers. On top of this she has a deployment phase ability that lets you make a normal move with three Deathrattle or Deadwalker units. For fun, she also has a rend 3 weapon against heroes that will auto-kill them on a 5+ if they take any damage from it.

Torgillius the Chamberlain is a wizard with a decent spell, but he also gets to use Deathly Invocation even if a different unit has already used it that turn. Again, if you’re going for the infantry board control build, bringing 6 wounds back into a unit is better than 3. 

We’ve mentioned the old reliable Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon a few times already, so it would be remiss to skip it here. 16 wounds with a 3+ save is good, as is the extremely forgiving battle damaged effect, dropping one melee attack down from 7 attacks to 5. Happily, the days of having to do maths to work out the best weapon for the rider is over and they have one option now – a brutal rend 2 damage 3 on the charge. This unit really does want to be charging, because it also gets to reduce the control score of enemy units in combat by 1 when it does so – not great into units but potentially very spicy in a monster duel. Speaking of charging and monster duelling, you get to pick a unit in combat, roll a number of dice equal to its Health characteristic and do a mortal for each 6. This is actually pretty pathetic most of the time, but quite funny into a mega-gargant.

Is the Bloodseeker Palanquin still terrible? Yes, but this is the most usable it has ever been. -3 control within 12” and a once per game +1 attack to three vampire units wholly within 12”. There’s a universe where this is cheap enough to not be embarrassing. Four attack Blood Knights are good.

Grave Guard have also had their weapon options removed and have in effect just had the great weapon option removed. They’re a 4+ save and damage 1 all the time now. They do crit mortals and a decent statline and can get pretty tanky by being near an infantry hero – now both they and the hero pick up a 5+ ward. Really not bad at all with all of the bonuses for Deathrattle infantry kicking around this faction pack.

On the topic of units the pack wants you to build around, Deadwalker Zombies really do have the worst statline in the game, managing to drop an attack from third edition. They still do mortal wounds when they die in melee, which now does not have a range restriction but only happens on a 6. Still, we’ve already talked about so many abilities this pack has to keep Deadwalkers on the table, and there’s even more besides. 

The Night of the Living Battle Tactic

The Death battle tactics are already fantastic and Soulblight are good at them. Inevitable Demise can be pure gimme for any build to something more speedy-vampire focussed depending entirely on the battleplan territories. Soulblight often also have the opportunity to take the kinds of skirmishing units that are great at the positional battle tactics like Seize the Centre and Take the Flanks, I’d expect Fell Bats to be popular for this alone.

Deadwalker Zombie. Credit: Skails

Expanding the Grave Empires

The third edition Soulblight battletome was comically overcooked, I don’t think we’re landing there with the power level of this faction pack, but there is a lot going on under the hood here and the fundamental abilities of the army are just strong. Chaff is always good in Age of Sigmar and Soulblight are one of the best in the business at it. The suite of battle traits and enhancements are all strong but most importantly that nebulous feel is bang on. The shambling, unending hordes you expect to see are there. The magic is powerful, the heroes are varied and strong. Undead/Vampire Counts/Legions of Nagash/Soulblight Gravelords are popular in every iteration of Warhammer they’ve appeared in, they will be again.

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