Thursday, May 14, 2015

Easterlings Summary, Part II - Warriors

Hey Reader!

Welcome back to TMAT!  We're continuing our discussion of the warriors from the Eastern Kingdoms army list, and as there are only five army choices for Eastern Kingdoms this will be a pretty short post.  In our last post on Monday we talked about the overall strengths and weaknesses of Eastern Kingdoms lists, as well as the various hero choices that are available to generals for Easterling armies.  In this post we will be going over the different unit options - which actually have quite a bit of versatility, for only having five warrior choices - that are at your disposal.

1.  Easterling Warriors

Easterling warriors are your rank-and-file warrior options, giving you access to heavily armored infantry.  You can purchase shields, bows, halberds (read: pikes that you can use with a shield courtesy of the phalanx special rule that they have), or a banner (for 25 pts, per the normal cost for banners), giving you a wide selection of basic infantry choices that you'd expect for an army list.

This does a few things for you.  First, it gives you access to D5 archers, which is very uncommon.  Other than Gondor, Dwarves, and Rivendell you don't see D5 on archers all that often, and gives you good protection against S2 and S4 archery and melee damage.  For players running a Warbands army, you also have access to a 50% bow limit, so you can field a solid number of high-Defense archers to support your frontline.

It's also worth noting here that all Easterling Warriors can pay an extra +2 pts/model to make them Black Dragon warriors, increasing their FV from F3 to F4 and their Courage from C3 to C4.  This makes them both more durable in melee combat (as it gets them up to F4 D6, which is standard issue for elite infantry in the current meta), and also makes them more reliable for charging and staying around if they are out of "Stand Fast!" range.  This gets expensive very quickly (10 pts/model for swordsmen, 11 for pikes, and 10 for archers), but can be very helpful in giving your soldiers the mettle they need to hold the ranks in a tough fight.

Another bonus for Easterlings is that it gives you access to pike support (so you can support three ranks deep) with all of your pikes having shields (for D6 protection) if you choose to purchase the shield upgrade as well.  At 9 pts/model this makes them basically on-par with Isengard pikemen (who cannot use shields but get F4 and S4 standard, so pretty fair trade I'd say considering the fact that the Isengard pikeman costs 10 pts/model instead of 9) and 1 pt more expensive than the Amroth Men-at-Arms for Fiefdoms armies (which is basically the same model except it cannot take a shield, so it makes sense too).  What makes Easterling halberds really nice, though, is that they are the only pike model that can become not only F4 (like uruk pikes) but also C4, so they are reliable pikes when the battle gets hard or if you need to charge a target who causes terror (and having played against a few Amroth and Isengard armies in my time, part of my strategy when facing them is to not kill the pikes early in the game so that they'll run later in the game because of this observation).  Ideally you won't have to charge with them (as they'll be pike supporting), but let's face it - at some point it comes up in a game, so it's nice to know that you can do it without as much fear as your C3 pike counterparts.

The primary limitation of having one standard infantry selection, though, is that you are limited to S3 for your infantry (and this carries over to Khand forces as well).  This can make it hard to wound stuff, but just be ready for this: you don't have access to S4.  This makes Easterlings an exceptional defensive civ (one of the best, in my experience), but you do lack a lot of the forward firepower that other civs have (especially if you are facing another F4 D6 army).

2.  Easterling Kataphracts

The Kataphract is basically an Easterling Warrior Swordsman with shield mounted on a D5 armored horse for an additional +6 pts.  Starting at 14 pts/model they are some of the cheapest heavy cavalry in the game, and with the ability to be upgraded with the Black Dragon upgrade for +2 pts/model (so still only 16 pts, which is not bad), they give you easy access to F4 D6 heavy cavalry.

Kataphracts may also take a banner for 25 pts (more on that in a bit) or a drum for 20 pts, and is the only access to a drum available in the Eastern Kingdoms list.  While both of these could be helpful (easy access to a 3" re-roll to win the fight and a chance at moving an additional +3" for your Easterling forces if you are not charging), I have my misgivings about both of them.  First, paying the additional 25 pts for the banner (bringing the model to 39-41 pts) is a lot of points to put into a mounted (read: very little cover saves compared to the Easterling Warrior who can also take a banner) 1 Wound model (so not a lot of room for error when arrows start flying or swarms of infantry surround your 40mm base) is not recommended.  Second and more than that, because Easterlings generally have a problem wounding things one of the ways to increase their damage output is knocking people over and doubling their wounding dice.  While you can still attack with a banner-wielding Kataphract, the -1 to win the fight makes it less likely that you will win, increasing the chance that your opponent not only does not die (which is the big Easterling problem), but gives them a good chance of killing your banner as well.

Similarly I have great misgivings to taking a drum.  By spending 34-36 pts to get an additional +3" of movement (by the by, this bonus does not help Khandish forces, for the record - it only helps Easterlings) you could pay just as many points for another 2-3 archers to add some cover fire (and distract fire from the main body of the army), 2 more Black Dragon swordsmen with shields (adding additional F4 D6 warriors to soak up the archery and melee damage), and you only buy yourself 1, maybe 2 turns of not being hit by archery if you purchase the drum (and this also assumes that you catch the archers instead of being bogged down by an enemy "anvil" unit).  While it is definitely possible to simply dismount your drummer (so that he does not get shot by enemy archery), this still doesn't fix the problem of how much you paid to front the drummer in the first place.

Isengard pays close to the same amount for their drummer option, but that guy is a hero (and at ~40 pts it's hard to top that as a leader for a warband if you're pressed for points) who has a Fate point (so a bit sturdier under fire) who can call a "Stand Fast!" when you need it, so I see the reason why you'd purchase him.  I don't think the kataphract with the drum is worth the investment; others are free to disagree.

Similar to the concerns for infantry (and generally for Eastern Kingdoms), while kataphracts definitely add some additional firepower on the charge they do suffer in the area of damage output, especially compared to their counterparts.  Kataphracts do not get access to a lance like their Morgul and Gondorian counterparts, and lack the innate 2A of Sons of Eorl (not to mention 12" movement).  Be that as it may, the fact that for 16 pts they are both F4 D6 and they are C4 gives them an advantage in charging terror-causing units, which is something that baseline heavy cavalry often have trouble with.  Personally I recommend fielding a few of them in your army - they can be very useful in helping your infantry puncture an enemy "anvil" unit, and can help to provide firepower to support the infantry phalanx.

3.  Khandish Warriors

Khandish warriors are your access to 2H weapons.  They fill two rolls in your army: 2H infantry support (for melee damage output) or lightly armored archers.  At only 8 pts/model they are decent archers (4+ SV with normal bows, just like their Easterling counterparts) and give you S3 2Hers, which is useful in cracking D6 and D7 frontlines.

We'll take a brief moment to discuss why you would take Khandish archers as opposed to Easterling archers (as we think the 2H option naturally makes sense).  The only major difference between an Easterling Warrior with bow and a Khandish Warrior with bow is that one of them (the Easterling) is D5, making him more resilient against S2 and S4 attacks.  The Khandish Warrior on the other hand is D4 (so competent against S3 attacks), though he is F4 (so more proficient in melee).

My recommendation is that you would field Khandish Warriors with bows if you were planning on using your Khandish Warriors as frontline archers, moving up with the phalanx and expecting to be attacked in melee (as they bring their F4 to bear, and most frontline infantry are S3 so being D4 or D5 makes no difference in regards to wounding), while you would use Easterling archers to cover flanks and trade archery fire with an opponent (as it will maximize the even-number damage rolls going against them and bring their F3 into the spotlight less often).  I personally do not like this distinction between archers (I'd much rather have the Orc Tracker v. Orc Warrior distinction where one shoots better but is more vulnerable to damage), but I can definitely see the reason in running both.

4.  Khandish Charioteers

Okay...for 25-26 pts (based on whether your purchase the bow upgrade) I'll say this upfront:

The 1 attack is going to aggravate you a lot.

The amazing thing about Khandish Charioteers is that it gives you access for only ~50 pts to two models with the monster rules, and since they move at 10" you basically get to choose when you go to combat with them.  What is more, since the chariot has 3 Wounds at D7, they're actually pretty sturdy against most aggressors (and people need to roll In the Way for both melee and ranged attacks against the charioteer on a 5+ instead of the traditional 4+, so that's helpful).

The problem is that 1) you've only got 1A (2A if you're on the charge), so winning combat against more than one opponent is hard, especially if you don't have a banner nearby (and you've got a massive base, so hitting more than one opponent is really easy), 2) you have a 2Her, which means that if you use it to help you land a hit (because unlike other monstrous mounts you are only S3) you are -1 to win the fight on your small number of attacks (so it compounds the problem), and 3) the rider is only D4 with 1 Wound, so if they ever slip something past your chariot (or kill the chariot), your guy will not last very long.

My simple response to this: that's okay.  I played a double-header set of games against Glot and Tavros this past month, and one of the things I learned about these charioteers is that even if they die to archery so that they never really see combat or get to kill anyone (which was the case in both games), they at least eat up a good amount of archery so that the rest of your army makes it to the front lines.

I then played another game with Tiberius where one of the chariots was killed very quickly (didn't even need to get past the In the Way rolls; the Khazad Guards just went to town on the poor chariot and then promptly killed the guy), but the other was able to do a good amount of damage (and keep some of the heroes at bay by knocking them over with flying guys).  So are they worth the 25-50 pts?  Maybe, maybe not.  But at the very least I recommend seeing these guys as a "we can run them up, threaten the enemy, and draw out archery so that the main body makes it where it needs to go" addition to the army, if not a powerhouse damage contributor.

5.  Khandish Horsemen

For these guys I have only one thing to tell you:

If you're looking to optimize your army, don't buy them.

Now some of you are thinking, "Wait, that's kind of harsh - I mean, Eastern armies are renowned for their horse archers, right?  The Parthians, the Scythians, the Huns, the Vandals, the Mongols - they all rocked with horse archers, right?"  Yes, you're absolutely right - and these guys are not Mongol horse archers.

Why do I say this?  To set the stage, they are 13 pts/model, they are F4/4+ (so decent FV and average SV for horsemen as 4+ is pretty standard), S3 D4 1A 1W C3, which again is pretty standard for horsemen.  The problem is that for the same cost you could get a Rider of Rohan who is only F3 (we're assuming you don't get the Westfold Redshield upgrade as that would increase the cost, but suffice it to say here the Rider of Rohan can also become F4, for the record, for only +1 pt/model) and you lose both the shield (so the Khandish horsemen are only D4 instead of D5) and all Riders of Rohan have the Expert Rider rule, which not only lets them claim the shield defensive bonus while still using their bows, but also allows them to re-roll failed Jump and Throw tests, so they have less likelihood of being dismounted, thrown, and taking a S3 hit (not to mention dying in a river they are trying to jump and other environmental penalties).

Unlike the Kataphract and the charioteer, the horsemen are not well built for melee combat.  With only 1-2 attacks at F4, they are on-par with spear-supported rank-and-file infantry in the current meta, and even if they win it's highly likely they'll be wounding on 5s or 6s, whereas if the infantry wins they will likely be wouding on 4s or 5s (even Shire units would be wounding on these odds).  This means that the chance likelihood that the horsemen survives melee combat (which is the only benefit for being F4) is very low, and if you're going to pay 13 pts for charge cav, you might as well pay 14 pts and take a kataphract (or 16 pts if you'd like him to be F4).

More than that, with dirt cheap archery options in your infantry who shoot just as well as these guys (the horseman is really a Khandish Warrior with a bow that costs more to add a horse) and are harder to hit because infantry have a better chance of getting cover saves, it makes a lot more sense to purchase the foot archers over and against the horsemen.  The only reason I'd recommend taking these guys is if you are attempting to run an all-cav force and you want to skirmish, but even then, just know that incoming damage will hurt a lot and your ability to return fire is not on-par with how much the horse archer costs to field.  You're paying points for F4, so if you're not using that you're wasting points.

Now some people are going to add these guys to a force for thematic reasons (see my post on army list building for some thoughts on that), and that's perfectly fine.  But if you're looking for an optimized build (more in the Min/Max or Linchpin camp), I don't recommend these guys.

Conclusion

In the next post we will discuss a few thoughts on tactics and planning when using an Easterling Army, so stay tuned watching this space!

Until then, you'll know where to find me,
Watching the stars,

Glenstorm

"Centaurs are concerned with what has been foretold!  It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in our forest!" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Monday, May 11, 2015

Easterlings Summary, Part I - Heroes

Hey Reader!

Welcome back to TMAT!  Life has been pretty busy for all of us here, but I'm excited to bring you all some new content over the next few weeks regarding the end of my Easterling month.  For the next three posts we'll be discussing Easterling armies, starting first with a review of the hero choices for Eastern Kingdoms players, and noting their strengths and utility to your army.  In the next post we will be examining the unit choices for the Eastern Kingdoms (which is a small list, so it will be pretty short post), followed by a final post discussing tactics and strategies for using Easterling armies effectively.

Before jumping into a discussion on the heroes available for Eastern Kingdoms players we'll first talk about the major difference between LOME and Warbands armies for Eastern Kingdoms, followed by a quick discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the army as a whole that players should be aware of before playing Easterlings.

LOME v. Warbands Army Builds

Here at TMAT we use two schemes for building armies: the old Legions of Middle Earth army builder scheme (with a rule that modifies army building so that you must have 33% or more of the force composed of heroes, usually deploys in three detachments, etc.) with the old alliance rules in place, and the new Warbands scheme for army building.  While we reserve judgment on whether one scheme is "better" generally for army building (as that his a point of contest by the few in the gaming community who truly care), it does make a pretty significant difference for Easterling players.  We'll cover this a bit more below, but suffice it to say for now, there is a difference in how the armies available to Easterling players can be formed.

Strengths of Eastern Kingdoms Armies

1.  High Defense or High Strength/Mobility: Eastern Kingdoms has two main subdivisions: the Easterlings (who bring the D6 and rank-and-file to the force) and the Variags of Khand (who bring the 2Hers, horse archers, and charioteers to the force).  Both can have F4 options, but generally speaking the Easterlings bring the defense to the army and Khand brings the firepower.  Either way, you have options at both (which some armies don't have).

2.  Good Cavalry Options: Most people will talk about Rohan cavalry (and for good reason - great mix of heavy melee hitters and skirmishers, which is why I own close to 600 pts of mounted models for Rohan now), but even Rohan can't compete with the cav options for Eastern Kingdoms.  If you like skirmishers, they have the Khandish Cavalry, which give you a good SV for a dirt cheap horseman (13 pts/model).  If you like heavy cavalry with a devastating charge they've got kataphracts that can sport F4 and C4 (uncommon for cavalry, which helps when charging terror-causing units) for 16 pts/model (which is 6 pts cheaper than Sons of Eorl and 2 pts cheaper than Gondorian Knights who sport a lower FV than the kats).  And if that's not enough variety for you, they've got chariots: monstrous mounts that can even knock over other cavalry (so running over enemy cav is very easy) and allows the rider to move 10" while still shooting.  Tons of fun.  So if you like cavalry, Eastern Kingdoms gives you a lot of options.

3.  Good Variety of Heroes: Some armies (like Rohan, Grey Company, etc.) have a number of heroes who all basically do the same thing: high-FV heroes with a good number of attacks who kill stuff in melee combat (and usually a "token ranged hero" to help "round out" the hero list).  Easterlings actually get variety out of their heroes.  Want a magic caster?  You've got a defensive caster (the War Priest) and a utility caster (Khamul) who can basically cast magic and fight all game long if you play your cards right (more on that below).  Want close combat damage guys?  You've got Amdur, the Dragon Knight, Khamul, any of the Khandish guys, and even the basic Easterling Captain can get access to a halberd (read: elven blade).  Want some fast attack, far-range heroes?  Access to horses, armored horses, fell beasts, and chariots (which also gives them bow options for heroes that allow them to move 10" and still fire - not too shabby).  You even get access to a 6+ Fury save on your guys, because D6 wasn't good enough at keeping your guys alive as it is, :)  Whatever you like, you'll find it in a hero from Eastern Kingdoms.

Weaknesses of Eastern Kingdoms Armies

1.  Magic Defense: While this weakness is not unique to Eastern Kingdoms by any stretch of the imagination (Rohan, Dwarves, and Isengard fall into this list as well), Easterling generals should be aware of the fact that wizards can make a mess of your lines.  While some of the characters in your list (Khamul, for example) will do fine against enemy magic, most of your heroes (and basically all of them under 100 pts) only have 1 Will Point to spend on dispelling magic, and those who have more than that (War Priests, for example) are unlikely to use the Will Point to resist magic as it is their means of casting their spells (like Bladewrath).  So just know upfront that enemy mages can cause problems for your list, and that you should not be surprised if Saruman or Celeborn turns "Amdur, Lord of Blades" into "Amdur, Lord of Statues."  Just be ready for it.

2.  Limited Core Choices: Like Rohan and Grey Company, Easterlings suffer from a limited selection of warriors.  They sport five warrior choices: Easterling Warriors (who serve as your frontline shield wall, pike support, banners, and heavy bowmen), Khandish Mercenaries (who serve as your 2H option and your bowmen), Kataphracts (heavy cav), Charioteers (light cav with a monstrous mount), and horse archers (for skirmishing).  This means that your army is easy to predict: they know exactly what you are capable of fielding (as distinguished from, say, Harad & Umbar who have access to over 10 different types of warriors, ranging from infantry to cavalry to monster choices).

3.  Generally Low Strength: Easterlings have trouble striking wounds.  Either they have to take the 2Her approach (which is not bad per se as their 2Hers are F4) or just trust to S3 doing the job, because apart from heroes they do not get access to S4 anywhere in the army (and among heroes they don't usually get higher than S4, so you lack the S5+ option that most other Evil armies get).  This is not necessarily a problem; just know that in a slug fest against D6 armies you're going to need to roll a lot of 6s or run 2Hers.  So if you're looking for a "bashy" army that will kill droves of people every turn, Easterlings will likely not do that for you.

4.  Hero Gaps: Armies like Rohan, Gondor, and Grey Company have scales of heroes, ranging from 25 pts to 150+ pts with models basically everywhere in between doing relatively the same things (with the big decision being how many points do I want to pay for a hero who can kill stuff in melee).  This means that if you want to change a hero choice to free up points, try something new, etc., you can easily make the switch with those armies.

For Eastern Kingdoms (and Isengard, who also suffers from this problem), they have a decent starting threshold (50 pts for a decent Easterling Captain), a number of heroes who will escalate to 70 pts, then a single named hero at 100 pts, and then a sudden jump to Khamul/Khandish King (I'm assuming you're running him with a chariot, as he's very lack-luster for 90 pts without it) who are at around 130+ with no variance at the top levels.  This means that if you're looking to make a switch (say, running a Dragon Knight instead of an Easterling Captain), you can make the switch but you don't free up a lot of points for other things.  If you switch to a power unit, you have a massive swing in points, with the heroes at the top doing different things from the heroes at the bottom (so you sacrifice some things to get other things).  This means that Easterlings will always lack the modular ability of other armies (especially Good armies; most Evil armies tend to have this problem, except maybe Mordor), especially at a 600-pt threshold.

So with all of this in mind, let's examine the hero choices for Eastern Kingdoms.

Hero Summary

1.  Khamul, The Black Easterling

Almost every Evil army gets access to a ringwraith or two, and it was the presence of Khamul in the list for Eastern Kingdoms that first got me investing in them.  Khamul has always been my favorite Nazgul, and in LOTR SBG he does not disappoint.  Khamul is typical of ringwraiths in his profile: F5, S4, D8, 1A, and 1 Wound, and with a 2M/12W/2F profile, he is on the lower end of the Nazgul in regards to his M/W/F store.

That being said, Khamul is arguably the best of the combat fighters among the Nazgul, and if not he is definitely the most reliable.  Not only does he have the ability to spend a Will Point to add +1 to his Fight Value (only a few ringwraiths can get to F6), Strength (no other Nazgul can do that), or Attacks (only the Witchking can do that, and that with an expensive upgrade), he can reach 2-3 attacks (if mounted on the charge), and can regain lost Will Points based on how many wounds he deals (note: the rule says how many wounds he causes, not how many are sustained, so targeting a 1 wound infantry model with low FV and low Defense is a great way to get fallen Will Points back, especially if you are mounted and knock over your opponent to double the wounding dice).  As a quick reminder, strikes made against a mount do not grant Will Points back, so don't waste your strikes against the mounts if you need Will Points back.

To make up for his amazing combat prowess, Khamul is worse at casting spells than all other Nazgul, receiving a +1 to the difficulty to cast every spell.  This is okay in game play; since the most helpful spells for him are Transfix (on a 4+) and Sap Will (on a 4+) the casting difficulty is not terrible, and one Will spent performing one of these actions can be easily made up in melee combat.  So if you like casting Black Dart don't run Khamul; choose another army, or team in another Nazgul.  If you like Transfix and Sap Will, you won't hurt too much by taking Khamul.  And if you like slicing things apart every combat round, Khamul is definitely your man.

Khamul is also very defensible.  Like all other ringwraiths, Khamul causes terror (so he requires a Courage Test to attack him) and gives everyone a -1 to Courage while within 12" of him.  He is also able to take a horse, armored horse, or any of the three kinds of fell beasts as a mount, so he has quite the variety of mount options to give him added versatility and mobility on the battlefield (not to mention the monster rules when attacking with a fell beast, so you can save Will Points if you want to use a higher Attack S6+ mount).

If you're hard pressed for points, I'll recommend taking Khamul on an armored horse for 135 points; I do not recommend saving yourself 5 points by taking the normal horse, as there is a good chance that stray archery will take away your horse charge bonus before you get to melee combat.  If you'd really like to spend 170+ pts on him you can take the fell beast; I usually don't have those points lying around so I don't usually take that mount.

2.  Amdur, Lord of Blades

Amdur is the utility hero for Easterlings.  He starts at F6 (which is handy for beating most heroes that are in his price range of 100 pts), and is S4 with 2A, which gives him pretty decent firepower (especially if you have pike support for him to boost his attacks).  With a 3M/1W/1F profile he has decent survivability (2 Wounds + Fate at D6; not bad for a guy without a shield option) and good combat power.  He also sports a falchion (counts as an elven blade), can get back fallen Might by killing heroes, and all Easterlings (including himself) treat him as a banner (not Khandish units - remember this, as it will come up again later on), so he always gets a re-roll if he doesn't like his roll to win the fight, much like Aragorn and Imrahil in this way.

Amdur can be mounted on an armored horse (which, if you like the idea of putting 115 pts into a D6 model that is open to enemy archery can boost his attacks and mobility), and is all around a good hero for the points.  If you are not leading your army with Khamul, I highly recommend leading it with Amdur.

3.  Easterling Captain

Easterling Captains are the core of every hero selection for Eastern Kingdoms armies.  For the cost you get a great captain - they are the only civ that can get a D7 "Bunker Captain" for 50 pts, and has the exact same stat line as the Rohan/Gondor equivalent heroes for cheaper (Rohan gets the Expert Rider rule on their captain which explains why he costs 5 pts more, but if you don't mount him - which is essential to the Bunker Captain's roll - the special rule is of no value anyway).  Like other basic captains there is also an option for a bow (I don't recommend you take it), but unique to the Easterling Captain is his access to a halberd, which is treated like an elven blade.  So for 20-30 pts cheaper than an elf hero you can get a chance at a 2H if you want in the hands of your S4 hero with 2 attacks.  Not bad.

I personally like the Bunker Cap Build (shield captain) because it provides the one thing you can really use in an Easterling army: a hero that will be around to provide a Stand Fast! when your army breaks.  They are excellent at holding the line against S4 heroes, tying down power units (especially the Imrahils and Glorfindels of the world who don't want to spend their Might against a little captain when Khamul or Amdur are running around), and anchoring the end of your battle line.  I highly recommend at least one Easterling Captain in your army.

4.  Easterling Dragon Knight

The Dragon Knight is the epitome of the forward firepower gamble: at F5 with 3A (5A with halberd support) and S4 (with a chance at S6 if you run a War Priest), not to mention 2 Might that can be replenished when you kill enemy heroes (like those really fragile drummers and bunker captains that only require 2-3 wounds to kill), it's hard to imagine why this guy is only 70 pts.  In Warband armies it makes perfect sense: as an independent hero he doesn't help you field more units if you run him, so you're running pretty light on models if you run 1, maybe 2 of these guys.

What is more, they are purely aggressive firepower: with only 2 Wounds at D6 with no Fate Points they are extremely fragile to incoming enemy fire, especially at S4 (so uruks are a wonderful counter to these guys).  To keep these guys in the field, though, they do have a special rule that allows them to avoid being knocked over on a 4+ (which is nice for avoiding trapping), and they can parry (grants the shielding rule, so 6 dice to defend yourself if your'e in a tight spot).

Drag Knights are a toss-up: if you need a bit more punch in your list they're a relatively cheap way to get 3A on a model (and one of the few ways to get it in an Easterling army), just make sure to shield them from unwanted archery and keep a squad of men near them to keep them on the offense.

3.  Easterling War Priest

The War Priest is the defensive anchor and primary augment hero of the Easterling force.  For 60 pts you get a shaman-style hero with a battle stave (counts as a spear, so you can keep him in the second rank all game) and he has the traditional "shaman problem" of having stats like a normal warrior: F3 (instead of F4), S3 (instead of S4), D5 (instead of D6), though he is also one of the few heroes to possess 3 Will.

War Priests possess the Fury spell (like other shamans) which grants a 6+ save against wounds dealt to Easterlings (including Khamul and the other heroes, but not including Khandish forces) within 6" of him, and also causes all of the warriors within 6" of him at the start of the Move Phase to pass all Courage Tests (including himself and all Easterling heroes).  This means that if your army reaches its break point not only will your War Priest automatically pass his Courage Test to rally and call a Stand Fast, but all heroes within range will also automatically pass theirs, which is handy).

War Priests also possess the Bladewrath spell, which is rapidly becoming my favorite spell.  Cast on a 2+ (2+!!!  ON A SHAMAN!!!), the spell makes an allied target within 6" strike all wounds at S6 until the end of the combat phase.  Naturally this is best put to use by a target who can call a Heroic Combat and get his S6 into more than one combat, but it can also be useful when a lone Easterling Warrior can sneak an attack against an enemy banner, give you the edge against a trapped cave troll, etc.  So a very handy spell.  So far I'm the only guy in our gaming group who uses War Priests, but I've reached the point where I frankly don't go anywhere without this guy.  They're very dependable, and I really like them.

6.  Khandish King
Photo courtesy of GamesWorkshop
Alrighty, Khand guys - where to begin.  For starters, all Khandish heroes begin with an elven blade (so you can 2H with them), which is a great place to start.  Since they are all F5+ and S4, this also means you have a good chance at winning the fight and doing a lot of damage if you use the 2H option (wounding D6 on 4+, D3-4 on a 3+, and cracking D7-8 "Bunker" units on a 5+ which is not bad), so I'll mention this here:

If you're using a Khandish hero and you're not using the 2H in combat, you're not playing them right.

If you're afraid of dying you should have bought an Easterling Captain - they're cheaper, better at not dying, and have better looking armor anyway.  If you're running a Khandish unit, you're running them because you want firepower, and "firepower" for Khand guys is defined as "2Hing."

The one exception to this is if you intend to attack with the chariot using the monster rules (as the chariot counts as a monstrous mount), in which case the bonus from the 2H probably doesn't help you.  Chariots are expensive (adding +30 pts to the cost of the hero), but they can tear up pretty well when they are on the charge.  So there's that.

Khandish Kings start at 90 pts, and for being that expensive I'm actually less than impressed with the base unit.  They're F6 S4 D6 (so pretty basic profile as far as heroes go), have 2A and 2 Wounds (so decent, but nothing out of the common way), are Courage 5 (which is not bad for Eastern Kingdoms, but most heroes in that range are C5 or C6), and sports a 2M/2W/1F profile (which is odd since most 90+ pt heroes get 3 Might Points).

Now some of you may be thinking, "well guys like Eorl start around that range - maybe he's got a special rule or something that makes his cost make sense?  I mean Eorl gets that nifty chance at a free Might Point on a 4+ so maybe the Khandish King gets something similar?"  Well, how much do you like Khandish units treating him like a banner? :P  Because that's the special rule, :)  Now, granted, in a chariot (which, to reinforce, I think is a good purchase for him as it gets him that third attack against virtually everything with F6 to win the combat) that's a huge base extending a 3" banner radius, but to reiterate, this only helps your Khandish units: Easterlings are unaffected.  Something to think about (he's the opposite of Amdur in this way).

7.  Khandish Chieftain
Photo courtesy of GamesWorkshop
Khandish Chieftains are the "budget" option for the Khandish King, and I'm convinced that if you're going to purchase a Khandish hero (especially for the chariot), just get one of these guys.  They get access to bows (which you can use while in a chariot, by the by, even though you have a 2H) and horses (if you don't want to use a chariot for +30 pts), so they can fill a few holes in your inventory.  What is more, for only 55 pts (that's correct: 35 pts cheaper than the Khandish King) you're F5 (instead of F6) S4 with 2A (same as the King), D5 (so -1D from the King) with 2 Wounds, Courage 4 (so -1C from the King), and a 2M/1W/1F profile (-1 Will).  Call me crazy...I think I'd rather buy 3-4 more Easterling/Khandish warriors and just take this guy.

Quick thing to note (because it's worth reiterating here): Khandish Chieftains are a bit squishy in regards to defense.  At D5 with only 2 Wounds and 1 Fate Point you're as vulnerable as a Harad/Grey Company hero but lack the supporting archery to whittle down enemy forces before they arrive (or distract fire from you if your opponent is running a "Gun Line" army).  If he's in a chariot the archer will hit the chariot on an In the Way roll of 1-4 (so only a 5-6 hits the rider, which helps as the chariot has 3 wounds at D7), but you should be aware of the fact that you are relatively exposed in regards to defense.  So just be careful where you put him.

Conclusion

In our next post we'll be discussing the five unit options for Eastern Kingdoms armies.  Until then, you'll know where to find me,

Watching the stars,

Glenstorm

"Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens.  Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?" ~ Bane, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone