G’day Goonhammer readers, and welcome to our Twilight Kin army review! We already passed snap judgement on the model range, looking at what images were available to us and providing our unqualified opinion. Now we bring our amateur percipience to the rules themselves, released for all to see just two weeks ago. What do we think is worth taking? How many “optional” upgrades does it take to make a Twilight Kin army?
The Dawn of the Twilight Kin
The last Twilight Kin to exist were an amalgamation of old-school Dark Elves (attempting to attract beleaguered Warhammer refugees) and their subjugated monstrosities from the Forces of the Abyss and Nightstalkers. It was an interesting army, with a few different playstyles, but it wasn’t a Mantic army; at least not the Elf part.
This time last year, the Twilight Kin were omitted from the army lists in the rulebook. This was to prevent people spending time building an army for a faction that was drastically going to change.
Across the first half of 2023, Mantic Games and the Kings of War Rules Committee were hard at work forging a new army. Model ideas became units, which were given rules to represent the concepts on the tabletop. Playtesting pushed these rules to the limit, identifying unfun experiences and making sure they were fixed.
Now, finally, the rules have been released in their entirety on the Mantic Companion.
Bloodhex – army upgrade
Every Kings of War army has a purchasable upgrade available to some of the units in the list. The Twilight Kin get access to Bloodhex; a once-per-game item that increases a unit’s Defense by 1. Considering almost all Twilight Kin have Defense 4+, this is quite a valuable upgrade, and comes in very cheaply at 5-10 points depending on unit size.
Elf infantry do not get more basic than this; Defense 4+, Melee 4+, Elite (melee). These are the cheapest option for unlocking all the monsters, heroes and titans available to the Twilight Kin. For a price they can be upgraded with Ensnare, become Reavers of the Middle Sea gaining Melee 3+, and even take a Bloodhex. All of this brings them over 250 points, yet they are quite the anvil unit, if only for a turn.
Armed with spears and attitude, the Fleetwardens are Voidwalkers but with Crushing Strength (1) and Phalanx, as well as the typical increased attacks common to Phalanx units. They can take a Bloodhex, but can also become Veterans of the Celestial War, which increases their Nerve by 1.
When comparing Fleetwardens to Voidwalkers, they are interchangeable when fully upgraded. Fleetwardens have the situational Phalanx, which is worse than Ensnare, but have higher Nerve. They have Crushing Strength (1) and more attacks, but are Melee 4+. Ultimately, Fleetwardens are more expensive, so for those after a cheap unit, basic Voidwalkers are the best choice. Once upgraded, however, they are almost exactly the same cost.
Corsairs with Tormentor pets, these are the oddest unit in the Twilight Kin. They are basic Elves, with Crushing Strength (1), Stealthy (from the Tormentors, presumably), and Speed 7. The peculiarity is their 6” shooting attack where the Tormentors are unleashed with Piercing (1), Steady Aim, and making the damaged target Disordered. With Range 4+ this is quite powerful, were it not for the 6” range. Without any enhanced manoeuvrability, it will be hard to get this shooting attack applied without being in immediate danger, making them a bit more like “throwaway” chaff. If simple chaff is needed, however, then Bound Phantoms suit the role far better.
It will take some time to see how these get used effectively.
The Twilight Kin at first glance seem devoid of cavalry, which is true, however the Voidtouched Mutants might as well be cavalry, and they do the job better than any guy on a horse. 20 attacks with Elite and Thunderous Charge (2) at Melee 3+, they will hit really, really hard. Sure, if they fail to kill on the charge they will struggle, but is that not the definition of cavalry?
The combination of Speed 7 and Wild Charge (D3) means they are sometimes faster than typical cavalry, and only rarely will they be Hindered thanks to Strider (such as from Scorched Earth). What’s more, the fact they are Heavy Infantry negates the typical cavalry counter of Phalanx, so these mutated madlads will really run amok if left unchecked.
Thankfully they are only Defense 4+ and have a bigger waver-rout value differential like Trolls, so it won’t be that hard to stop them in their tracks. That said, Voidtouched Mutants have both the Twilight Elf and Voidtouched keywords, giving them access to two different auras supplied by the Navigator (see below). One makes them harder to hit at range, and the other grants Vicious. If removing the Mutants is a problem, the Navigator might need to be targeted first.
Gone are the simple bow-wielding Gladestalkers of yesteryear, the Twilight Kin (heavy) infantry now wield magic in the form of Fireball (free) or Lightning Bolt (extra cost, restricted amount). Like their Mutant counterparts, they, too, have Defense 4+ and a large waver-rout differential. Unlike the Mutants, they can really hang back, and be looked after by the Navigator. This particular synergy will imbue them with Stealthy and Spellward, making any ranged retaliation particularly difficult. Being Irregular at least prevents the easy fielding of multiple units, but these could potentially catch people off-guard.
The poster boys of the Twilight Kin do not disappoint, being hammer and anvil all in one. Elite and Crushing Strength (1) on 18 Melee 3+ attacks will always be a decent chunk of damage (better than Trident Realm’s Depth Horrors), but they can take a charge thanks to their Big Shield and Fearless nerve (no Waver value). They aren’t that fast, but Wild Charge (D3) gives them an edge over standard footslogging units. Expect Impalers to be the core of many a Twilight Kin army, and treat them with the respect they deserve (i.e. multicharge them if possible). Like the Voidtouched Mutants, Impalers possess both Twilight Elf and Voidtouched keywords, so will have the same benefits from Navigators (seeing a trend?).
What better way to sail the Void than in flying chariots? They come only in regiments (3 chariots), sporting a neat combination of 16 attacks with Brutal, Elite, and Thunderous Charge (2). Unfortunately at Melee 4+ and with no inherent terrain mitigation, they are likely to do only a handful of damage, but they are at least reasonably cheap and manoeuvrable.
Probably the most divisive rule comes with their optional shooting attack. The attack is a classic Flamebearer-Naiad Heartpiercer kind of shooting profile, but line of sight comes from the sides of the unit rather than the front, a rule called Broadside. This is obviously quite cool given the model is literally a boat, bringing to mind scenes of naval combat. How useful this shooting is when applied in game remains to be seen, with only 8 shots. For those not a fan, it is an optional upgrade, so can be ignored if desired.
At first glance this dragon-type unit is underwhelming, it’s a bit slower and has less attacks. Then one notices the 190 point price tag, and suddenly this unit is more akin to a Beast of Nature but on a titan-sized base. What’s more, it has Strider and the ability to reroll 3 failed hits, making it extremely reliable. When the Goredrake hits, it will hurt! Consider the Goredrake a budget Voidlurker.
A quintessential Elf assassin unit with all the usual assassin-like rules, it even has throwing weapons, yet this isn’t what makes it useful. Unique to the Twilight Assassin, it has Dread, making its mere existence a bonus to any combat. Additionally, it imposes -1 to damage on units that it damages with Fel Blades, in a similar manner to Grupp Longnail of the Goblins. Like that unique Goblin hero, the Twilight Assassin will be best employed in the thick of battle, weakening key enemy units and dropping their Nerve.
Some may lament the lack of speed or flying, intimating that the Twilight Assassin will struggle to hunt down characters. Yet compared to it’s incredible utility described above, killing Individuals is definitely a secondary function, to be done when the opportunity arises rather than its sole purpose.
The unit nearly all Twilight Kin army lists will include, the Navigator is completely unremarkable as an Individual except for the Legacy of Oskan. This grants the choice of one of three Auras, each of which has a different effect on different types of units according to their keywords, just like the Sauceror in the Halfling list. All the options support their “sub-factions”, covering weaknesses in the list. You probably won’t see the Life Leech for Cronebound aura, but Stealthy and Spellward for Voidtouched will be up almost all the time, and probably in more than one part of the battlefield as well. The only downside of this flexibility is that the Auras need to be activated when moving the Navigator, so there’s potentially a Turn 1 where the army will lack these Auras during the opponent’s turn. It also can’t use them when Disordered, so the old trick of hitting a mage in the face will work, too.
The primary spellcaster of the Twilight Kin, the Summoner Crone follows a new trend of not coming with a spell automatically, which ideally keeps her cost quite low. She has access to a wide variety of spells, but what makes her really exciting is Wicked Miasma which grants Piercing (1) damage rolls for Enthrall, Hex, Weakness and Windblast. It’s essentially built in Lightning Bolt but better; there’s no shooting modifiers!
The nastiest combinations involve multiple Summoner Crones using Enthrall to pull units out of cover while damaging them in the process. Then Voidtouched Weavers and Bound Mind-screeches obliterate what’s left. A small mercy is that a mounted Crone with two spells is not cheap. Still, we recommend readers don’t leave home without some Hex.
Leader of the Corsairs, the Void Captain is a nice melee hero whose most valuable asset is Rallying (1 – Corsair Only). This guy increases the viability of the Fleetwardens considerably, bringing their Nerve to a possible 23/25. There’s the option to purchase more attacks and more Nerve, however keeping her cheap is best, as Corsair heavy lists will want at least two running around.
Soulbane on Nightmare
Boss Impaler on a Nightstalker horse comes with a standard Hero (Large Cavalry) profile. It will hit reasonably hard with 6 Melee 3+, Elite, Crushing Strength (2) attacks, and will be hard to pin down being Nimble. The real bonus here is the Dread. Charging the Soulbane on Nightmare into the thick of battle, joining in with other units, it will help skew all the combats around it, especially with the 50 mm base from which the Dread will be measured.
Captain on Void-Skiff
Void Captain on Void-Skiff would have been too silly, so this is just a regular captain instead. This version of the captain lacks Rally, and instead boasts a decent melee profile with 7 Melee 3+, Elite, Crushing Strength (1), Thunderous Charge (1) attacks, as well as 7 Broadside shots. All of this makes for a reasonably expensive unit at just under 200 points. There’s an optional upgrade for Very Inspiring, Thunderous Charge (2), and Aura (Headstrong – Twilight Elf Only) that is very tempting, but demands a list full of Elves (which includes all the Voidtouched units). At this point one might as well just grab the Sacred Horn for 3” more aura, which is fantastic given the chariot base this unit is on.
Navigator on Void-Skiff
All the good stuff of the Navigator, now on a boat. Slightly better nerve, and some (not much) combat potential. It also comes with the Broadside ranged attack. The speed boost is the key here, allowing the Navigator to keep up with your other Skiffs or Mutants to keep them safe or boost their damage with its Auras. Larger base size helps spread the Aura a little bit further, and the Void-Skiff also gives Unit Strength 1. Playing the scenario is always important. Are the extra points worth it for that? It’ll be up to you to decide.
Another Impaler Hero, this one is the same general profile as the Impalers, but it exchanges Big Shield for an extra Crushing Strength. -/15 Nerve, 9 attacks and Inspiring makes it a nice little support package for putting on a few extra wounds in any combat. The similar, but different enough profiles (and only 5 points difference) of the Impaler Soulbane and Soulbane on Nightmare is going to make which one seeing play an interesting meta call. How much do you value speed versus defence versus hitting power?
La’theal, the total package. She is an amazing support piece. She comes with a Stealthy aura that’s not keyword locked, so it benefits everyone in the army. Unlike the Navigator, this is a normal Aura, so will be active the whole game. Bane Chant (3) to give you a way to deal with high defence. Enthrall and Windblast (7), that rolls damage with Piercing (1). As if that’s not enough, she can strip a unit within 12” of its Stealthy and Spellward, and that same effect bestows re-roll one’s to all spells targeting that unit. And of course, she Inspires. The only downside is she isn’t on a horse.
Mikayel, Lord of Nightmares
Another pricey hero here, but of any of them, Mikayel is worth it. Aside from having a baller model, he comes with a host of special rules to help him kill. Melee 3+ with 9 attacks, Crushing Strength (2), Dread, Elite, and his Sword of Umbra for Slayer (3), really let him put the pain on those pesky enemy monsters. The big change for him is now he is a Large Cavalry Hero, not an individual anymore, so that means double attacks in a flank! He also scores, but what does that matter if all the enemy are defeated? That’s Mikayel’s strategy.
Formation – Crew of the Heart Seeker
Contains: 2 x Corsair Fleetwardens [Troop],1 x Impalers [Regiment]
This is an interesting little formation. The Fleetwardens troops get a bump in attacks and Fearless, while the Impalers get an aura of Rallying(1) for Corsairs. On its own, it’s doesn’t look amazing, but there is a lot of support in the list for a heavy Corsair Build, and having Rally spread from a Monstrous Infantry base, along with two fearless troops might be a good way to go, if you can’t get the hero unlocks for Void Captains.
There’s a fair bit of overlap with the main Nightstalkers army. Twilight Kin have a good selection of what we’d call support options from the Nightstalkers list. You don’t get all the cool options, but you get a lot of them, making a Nightstalker heavy Twilight Kin list a good place to start if you want to get it on the table quickly.
There are not many changes to the Nightstalkers compared to their list, but the important one is they have all lost Mindthirst. They mainly get a small points drop to compensate, but if you’re a Nightstalker main, then you’ll have to be careful to not slip up and move something out of your Inspiring range.
One Bound Reaper regiment can get a bargain upgrade of Vicious and Mindthirst, but you’re probably not taking Reaper regiments. If you do, take this though.
Bound Phantoms are the best chaff in the list for your Mutants, Skiffs and really anything else. They are very good at what they do.
Butchers are Butchers. They’ll be outshone for most of their roles by Impalers, but they do have more Crushing Strength and are cheaper, so they are by no means a bad choice.
Bound Ravagers are also available. Urr has been mucking around with them in Nightstalkers, and they can be very scary there. They don’t have quite as much support in the Twilight Kin list, and, importantly, are Irregular. There is also a lot of Lightning Bolt available in the Twilight Kin list (like, a massive amount), so the Ravager’s functional 12” Lightning Bolt is less needed. There is an upgrade for them, giving their guns Piercing (2), and it is cheap enough to be worth it, if you’re taking one.
They’re still good in Nightstalkers, and they’ll be good in Twilight Kin. Windblast is a great tool to stop your opponent double charging an important unit, Height 4 lets you see over Impalers, and they are up as one of your fastest units. They’re a fine addition to any list.
Speaking of Height 4, now we’ve got the Bound Mind-screech. Another source of Lightning Bolt in the list, and just a solid monster, so a good use for those unlocks if you’ve got them.
Importantly, the Twilight Kin list is limited to just one Planar Apparition, so you can’t run a crazy amount of heal and several Radiance of Life sources (though they wouldn’t stack) behind a wall of Impalers. Still, running one between two Hordes of Impalers is not a bad place to start a list.
The other great unit to be supported by a Planar Apparition, the Bound Terror. It’s just as good here as in the Nightstalkers list, and you’ll never be upset to have one (you’ll be a little disappointed if all you play against is Ogres). This is another great unit to anchor off of. It’s very hard to kill, it regenerates if it lives, and it eats small units for breakfast, and you can keep it alive even more easily in the Twilight Kin list, with ample access to Weakness and Windblast.
Bound Butcher Fleshripper
Penultimately, we have the Bound Butcher Fleshripper, and, honestly, it is nothing special. In this list, keep on scrolling, save the hero unlocks for the good stuff.
The only punchy unit in the list with speed 10. The Voidlurker is a great dragon unit. It’s not as strong as some other factions, but is generally much cheaper. In the Twilight Kin list, it has an optional, one-off upgrade, for Inspiring and a nerve increase. This removes its main weakness of being alone on a flank, and a bit of chipped damage and a spiked nerve roll takes it off for good (poor Urr speaking from experience).
The Twilight Kin are a great list. Just like the refresh of the Northern Alliance, there are a bunch of different builds, and none of them look broken. Strong, certainly, and we’ve seen some concern that the weaknesses of the list are easily mitigated, through things like the Navigators. There might need to be some adjustments down the line, but remember, the Twilight Kin are balanced against the upcoming Clash of Kings, so hopefully there’ll be a bunch of goodies for the rest of the factions.
While reading the list, what jumped out was the amount of upgrades available. It is going to be interesting to see if that is the direction Mantic takes with its other armies. This is not a good or bad thing in itself, there are a bunch of profiles that simply could be upgrades; Ironwatch Crossbow vs Ironwatch Rifles vs Sharpshooters, I’m looking at you. The main concern will be explaining things to your opponent, if they are unfamiliar with the list, or if you have multiple units of the same model with different upgrades.
The other stand out feeling from the faction is the amount of builds that look good.
- Elf heavy lists with mlutiple regiments of Fleetwardens or Voidwalkers, backed up by lots of Rally and Weakness to keep them alive.
- Multiple Impalers, Crones and the Planar Apparition to never let your opponent kill a unit.
- Mass Lightning Bolt and damaging Windblast.
- All in on Skiffs and Skiff characters.
- 6 Dragons with Voidlurkers and Goredrakes
- And of course mixing and matching across any of these.
In on the Twilight Kin
I (Urr) am jumping on the Twilight Kin train. There’s a lot of options to explore here, but I’ll be starting with an Impaler and Mutant heavy list, as I think those models are the coolest. There’s less of them to paint to try to get an army ready for Clash of Kings Australia at the start of next year. There may also be more Nightstalker in the list than currently planned, as I’ll have them painted already.
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