White Dwarf 472 – The Tome Celestial: Ossiarch Bonereapers

Ossiarch Bonereapers are not in a great spot at the moment. Our analysis shows that despite having a roughly 50% win rate, this win rate is very heavily weighted towards beating armies that are also at the lower end of the pile and only being in a winning position in a very, very few tournaments. Other analyses show the army performing even worse, but fortunately, Games Workshop seems to be paying attention, releasing Tome Celestial updates in White Dwarf for factions that at least have the appearance of struggling. Nagash’s Legions have received theirs this month, so Iet’s dive right in!

Allegiance Abilities

Relentless Discipline

Only a very minor change here, tightening language in the FAQ to specify ‘Ossiarch command ability’, allowing you to use some of the new command abilities granted to the army. Other than that, the language is identical to the most recent FAQ, continuing to allow you to use the same command ability more than once (great) but not allowing two command abilities to affect the same unit (less good, a core part of how the army previously functioned). 

Command Abilities

Ossiarch Bonereapers gain two new command abilities here: Reknit Constructs, and Unflinching Coordination. Unstoppable Advance remains, exactly as written before (3″ of additional movement).

Reknit Constructs allows you to heal D3 models in a unit or return up to that many wounds worth of models, so long as that unit is more than 3” from enemy models and has not moved that movement phase. Free healing is always good, but the ‘no moving’ restriction is a real kick in the skull – this is a melee army, primarily, so you’re likely only going to be able to use this ability on units that are sitting back holding objectives, unthreatened by the enemy nicking it, or your catapults. It’s not terrible, but I can’t imagine myself using this too frequently. I fully understand the 3” away from the enemy restriction though; mass resurrection Ossiarchs can be a real pain, already having the ability to casually resurrect 6 or more models a turn. This could just make that even worse.

Unflinching Coordination allows a Hero that has already fought to order a non-Hero unit to fight immediately after. This could be real neat, allowing for two combat activations back to back, potentially before their target has even fought. Scatter a few Heroes throughout your army and, given how many Relentless Discipline Points the army usually has to spare, you could very well double tap combat activations every time you activate.

Heroic Actions

Two new Heroic actions, a first for an army! Ossiarch Bonereapers struggled with Heroic Actions, as Heroic Leadership did nothing for you and that was the goto when you didn’t have anything else to do. Now there’s 2 more for you, and theyre good!

Relentless Leadership is a new Heroic Action unique to Ossiarch Bonereapers, allowing one Hero to issue free command abilities for a turn, as long as theyre from the “Ossiarch Command Abilities” list. While, yes, Relentless Discipline Points are rarely in short supply, the ability to just slam out a few more is absolutely not a bad thing. I can see this being used later in the game where some of your Heroes have been whittled away, leaving you bereft of good Relentless Discipline Point generation, and one lone heroic Liege takes command of the boney remnants to win the day with free command abilities. Ah, good times.

Necromantic Mastery is also pretty flash hot. Mortisan Heroes (Mir Kainan, Boneshapers, Soulmasons and Soulreapers) can use this Heroic Action to mean that the first spell they cast each round cannot be unbound. Got a nervous opponent just waiting to unbind your Empower Nadirite Weapons so you can’t murder their pride and joy? No longer, bucko!

Abominations of the Ossiarch Mortisans. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Abominations of the Ossiarch Mortisans. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics

The new Ossiarch Grand Strategy is Unrelenting Efficiency, requiring you to have a Mortek Guard or Kavalos Deathrider (your two Battleline units) unit alive at the end of the battle with full models left. This is, frankly, terrible, and is absolutely a ‘win more’ Strategy rather than a ‘help you win’ one. If these units, commonly taking the brunt of the battle, are at full health, you’ve already won – either because your opponent hasn’t managed to damage them, or you have sufficient healing to just spend willy-nilly on healing these guys back up without needing it elsewhere. Why would you ever take ‘make sure a Battleline unit is in pristine condition’ Grand Strategy when you can take Hold the Line, which just required a Battleline unit to be on the board at all?

Trample the Defiant is probably the best Battle Tactic in this update, requiring you to have a Kavalos Deathrider unit that, uh. Charges. Okay, so it also has to be within 3” of the enemy at the end of the turn, which means you have to not kill your opponent, but it’s still pretty decent. Deathriders are surprisingly tanky, so hitting one of your opponent’s bigger units can often be a good way of pinning that unit in place without immediately murdering it, so I expect to use this tactic most games I take Deathriders.

Unfeeling Recursion is scored if two or more friendly units had models healed by Reknit Constructs. This again feels a bit like a ‘win more’ scenario, since if you’re not moving models into combat they’re likely not being threatened, though with the amount of shooting around at the moment I can see this potentially being viable. It’s also a 66% chance of healing 2-3 wounds, so you risk botching it based on a dice roll. It doesn’t rattle my bones.

The Tithe Demands is scored if a Hero or Monster you pick at the start of the round is slain, with an additional Victory Point scored if they were slain by a Gothizzar Harvester. This is kind of like a more generous Bring It Down, so no real complaints here. I can’t see Harvesters scoring this too often, being neither super tanky, not super hitty, and often a priority target to stop you bringing even more models back, but a free Victory Point for killing of that annoying little combat character (perhaps working alongside Unflinching Coordination) is always nice.

Nagash marches to war. with the Ossiarch Bonereaper Legions Credit: Magos Sockbert
Nagash marches to war. with the Ossiarch Bonereaper Legions Credit: Magos Sockbert

Open Play

The twist on the Twist this time is Gaze of the Nexus. On a 4+, your Bone-tithe Nexus (you’re still bringing that, right?) can issue two punishments instead of one. Honestly this feels like it could be a general rule, given the new restrictions, but it’s neat to imagine the fear in your opponent’s eyes as yet another wizard cowers with -1 to cast.

Today’s Ruse is Reconstructed Nightmares, which feels a little bit of a perjorative title, but we’ll run for it. Once per battle you can pick a Mortek Guard or Kavalos Deathrider unit that’s been destroyed, and bring back a half-strength unit on a 4+ within 12″ of a Hero and more than 3″ away from enemies. Again, this would be a neat ability to introduce to matched play; it working on a 4+ once per battle means you’re only seeing this once every ten turns, so not too unbalancing in either way to play.

Path to Glory

Reapers of the Tithe is a new mechanic that allows you to roll a die once an enemy unit is destroyed and, on a 2+, the bones of the destroyed unit have been claimed, and the most metal rules sentence in AoS has been born. Oh, and also your tithe points are increased by one. I would have thought we wanted to claim bones and not destroy them, but I’m not a Mortisan, what do I know.

What do we do with these tithe points? Well, we can use them to add new units to our order of battle instead of using glory points in a 1:1 ratio. At the end of the aftermath sequence, the Mortisan order distributes the remainder of the tithe to the Ossiarch Empire and your tithe points are reduced to 0. It says that, really. You can’t keep them for yourself. Sorry.

Veteran Abilities

Our Legions gain three. Immortal Legionnaires allows a unit to use a once per battle ability at the start of the combat phase to increase its Deathless Warriors save to 5+ from 6, more than doubling their survivability from this save for multi-wound models. This is real good, and real thematic, but the other two veteran abilities probably edge it out for best options.

Peerless Warriors gain a once per battle ability to inflict a mortal wound on the target in addition to any other damage if the unmodified wound roll is a 6. Given the sheer volume of attacks your Mortek Guard in particular can put out, this is probably making your opponent’s fanciest models a bit nervous.

Finally, units with the  Hatred of the Living veteran ability harbour a deep loathing of all living creatures, and frankly, same. This gives them a +1 to wound for attack rolls against non Death units in the combat phase, and this is superb. Bonereapers have always been held back a little bit by their Battleline units being only 4+ to wound and the book strugglin to buff that.

Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis and leader of the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Credit: Magos Sockbert
Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis and leader of the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Quest: Blood for Bone

If you end a Path to Glory Battle with 10 or more tithe points, you gain a boon for your next battle. During the next battle, every Hero Phase you can restore one model to every unit with a wound characteristics of 3 or less. It’s not bad, good if you got a big epic battle coming up and want to prepare everything but Ossiarch all already have access to a ton of healing.


Three new territories and 2 of them are pretty damn good. Ancient Battle Site lets you up the number of Monsters or War Machines you’re limited by 1, and if you upgrade it you increase the limit by 2. This is limited to Harvester and Mortek Crawler at this time, and I cant imagine needing more than 1 in a battle but if you need it, it’s here.

The Shyishian Realmgate is crazy powerful. In its base form, you get a free Endless Spell but when upgraded, once per battle a friendly Wizard can automatically cast it and not be unbound! This has powerful potential, especially with the right Endless Spell.

Finally Necropolis Foundations does nothing at first but when updated it grants a bonus Glory point for each surviving unit at the end of a game. Great for the long term, as it’ll pay dividends over time.

Campaign: Tithe-Takers

The last part of this supplement is a campaign called Tithe-Takers and it’s something wholly new. Instead of a serious of missions as they’ve done in the past, it’s more like an achievement. Through a new mechanic, you gain a number of Bone Dice when you win a match, based on different criteria. For example, you get 10 dice for a Major victory, 5 for slaying the Enemy General and so on. You then roll each of these dice and add up the results, adding it to your tally. After 5 games you pool your tally together and compare your results to a table of narrative results. If you do exceptionally well, you’ll get an artefact for your trouble.

That’s not all, as there is a wrinkle in the system. Each unit you bring to battle has an upkeep cost, so they draw from your Bone Tithe result to field some of the bigger units. You have to decide how many forces you’re willing to field, and if it’s better to field a smaller force in order to reduce your upkeep.

This is an excellent idea, you can integrate it into a Path to Glory game naturally, and not require players take time out to play specific missions with you. Some of the fluff inside is great too, casting more light on the Ossiarch Bonereapers society.


While I’m still of the opinion that Ossiarch Bonereapers need a ground up rewrite to fix the issues around Relentless Discipline Points and command abilities just not working, this Tome Celestial honestly looks like a neat leg up for the army. Unflinching Coordination, Trample the Defiant, The Tithe Demands and both heroic actions I expect to see some real play, and while there are some less exciting parts no update or book is ever goin to hit every mark. This opens up some intriguing options and I haven’t been this excited to get my boney friends on the table since before AoS 3.0. Onwards for the Tithe!