Building on a budget – undead

In this blog post i’ll cover a building-on-a-budget for the undead army. I’ll be aiming for 1,500 points for a start.

As with my building-on-a-budget for Abyssals, I’ll limit myself in a few ways:

  • Multibasing to get some efficiency is okay, but I’ll aim for PMC instead of MMC.
  • Artifacts can be used, within the limit that they have to actually add something to the army.
  • the army must be effective on the battlefield
  • it must also be easily be expanded to 2,000 and 2,500 point.

First things first

This building-on-a-budget was much harder than the previous ones. This is mainly because Undead are something of a horde army coupled with the fact that the Mantic (Or GW for that matter) army deals are not that effective to start an army. So I had to use two suppliers to get the army.

Why Mantic’s army deals aren’that great is explained in the last part of this blog.

Now let’s start and build that army!

I’d take the following units:

  • Legion of 60 zombies. (190 points) Because…. who doesn’t want a zombie swarm? It’s not cheap, but compared to other anvils of 40 models the total cost of a zombie legion isn’t expensive either. -/28 nerve is a lot to chew through and the low defense is usually migitated by the fact that a lot of units have CS or TC of more than one, so they were going to wound on 2’s anyhow. To build it, just combine 1 mantic swarm for 39 minis with 5 reaper zombies to get the 44 you need to meat (pun intended) PMC. Cost € 6 for the reapers + € 40 for a mantic swarm.
  • I strongly suggest building the legion on 2 regiment bases and 2 troop bases so you can field them as either 3 regiments, a regiment and a horde or a legion.
as I can’t find pictures of my own zombies, here’s one from Pinkymadigan’s. these are better looking anyhow.
  • Necromancer, upgraded the inspiring talisman for 105 points. I’d take the Reaper necromancer because I like the model; especially at that price. If you want a more mature (i.e. not half-naked woman) model, the Darkrasp model is also nice at the same price. Cost € 3,-
  • 2 troops of ghouls for 130 points. Ghouls make decent chaff and are indispensible for the undead army. When multibasing, 20 ghouls could make 3 troops of 7 (especially if I would get one more model from Reaper,) but I can’t find a place for the 3rd troop in my army. (Mantic regiment of ghouls € 25)
  • Ilona’s thirstful coven is one of the best – if not the best- formation at this moment. It contains a regiment and two troops of soul reaver infantry + ilona. All get the fearless upgrade plus additional movement. The formation hits like a truck; so it’s very effective on the battlefield. Total points: 825. The price, however, is not so good. In order to multibase 2 regiments (or 4 troops, as I would do) you’ll need 28 model. Mantic Ilona + 30 soul reaver infantry set you back for € 85. )

There’s something to be said for an alternative for this formation. While, in 2019 it’s gonna be good, it may or may not be so good when Clash ’20 lands. Additionally, I think the models are particulary ugly and there’s no alternative models unless you want to mix-and-match 28mm vampire heroes from different companies. Therefore I’ve coocked up an alternative below.

  • Horde of werewolves. Reaper has plenty nice models (this, this and these) which cost only € 4 a piece. Werewolves are nice to have since M9/nimble is great.

Alternative to Ilona’s coven

As writen aboven, not everyone likes to spend 825 points on 4 unit strength. Also, the models…. So instead of those vampires’here’s an alternative that fills the same role: killing stuff.

Mantic’s wights
  • 3 hordes of wights. Reaper has some cheap wight models (these, these and these) and though these are not as large as some other large infantry models, they are of roughly the same size as Mantic’s enslaved guardians. I’d suggest mounting them on elevated terrain to show height 2. 18 wights costs € 54. I strongly suggest using (at least some) of the official Mantic models, as they are gorgeous, but at € 50 for a horde, this is not in the realm of building on a budget.
  • Revenant king for € 6. I’d strongly suggest finding the 20 points to mount him and 5 points for the blade of slashing, but this does not fit in the 825 points allotment.

Point costs:

  • Zombie legion (190)
  • Necromancer, inspiring talisman (105)
  • 2 troops of ghouls (130)
  • Ilona + coven + regiment + 2 troops of soul reavers (825)
  • Werewolf horde (235)
  • 15 points left out to spend on magical items or upgrades

The army is a bit low on Unit Strength, but hits like a truck. It’s also afordable (though not as much as other bulding on a budget projects) for a total of € 175.


If not choosing the Coven, there’s also other options. While I like Wights, 3 hordes might be a bit too much. If that is so, there’s the option to change two hordes of Wights into zombie trolls (reaper has decent troll models), so I can upgrade the 3rd regiment to Barrow wights and give the revenant king a horse and some goodies.

Expanding to 2,000 points:

  • Revenant king on flying wyrm. This reaper model is kinda nice, and only costs € 18. He needs a rider, so I’d take this model, cut off the stone thing and green stuff something of a saddle. (235 points)
  • Maybe some more unit strength. Regiments of zombies/ghouls come into mind.

Why the Mantic undead army deals aren’t that great

Though I’m somewhat of a Mantic fanboy, in this case I’m not a fan of Mantic’s undead army boxes. While the other army boxes (in particular the Abyssal and the goblin ones) make a decent start for an army, the undead army boxes don’t. And that;s sad because there’s three versions: the undead army, the undead mega army and the elite army. Each of them has its problems.

The reason behind them is that the undead army boxes don’t have synergetic options in them. The models within each of the army deals are competitors for the same army spot, so there’s not much chance you’ll be using the whole box unless the army is really large.

Other than that, The undead army, unlike most other Mantic armies, has many options available. The army has more choices than most other armies and most of them can do well in any army.

That said, the army needs several components to work well. It needs -at least- either an anvil or some chaff (preferably both) and a hammer unit. The basic setup of the undead army is either:

  • shambling anvil (undead anvils are amongst the best in the game) + inspiring/surge character + chaff + one or more hammer units.
  • or:
  • Various fast and elite units + chaff combined with elite characters and maybe cheap units for unit strength.

Most undead armies use either of these as a basic setup. The Mantic undead deals don’t fit in well enough, for instance:

  • The undead army deal includes a regiment of each ghouls, skeletons and zombies, a necromancer and two balefire catapults. If you want to build an anvil-unit, you either want a horde (or legion) of either skeletons OR zombies, not a regiment of both. Troops of ghouls usually do well, but a regiment is too much. The balefires are -sadly- one of the few choices in the undead army that are sub-par and will probably not be used at all. So this box has a regiment of skeletons (or zombies) in surplus and both balefires. The army lacks a horde of heavy infantry as hammers.
  • the undead mega deal has the same problem. It has a horde of both skeletons and zombies and a regiment of revenants, while you only need one of the three. (maybe two). The werewolves are a nice addition, especially with lycanis, so you can multibase a horde out of the four models. The 10 mummies, however, are useless unless you buy another troop as mummies are only used as regiments and 10 mummies is just a few short to multibase a regiment.
  • The undead elite army is the best of the three; but has problems of its own. It features two (!) regiments of revenants cavalry in addition to the useful wraiths and werewolves. While revenant cavalry isn’t bad at all, their usefullness is diminished by the fact that Undead has better options as hammer units. (Wights, zombie trolls, soul reavers, werewolves, characters). This delegates revenant cavalry to resillient chaff roles and for this 2 regiments is far too much. (A troop would have been enough)
  • To help Mantic out: If one would change the surplus skeletons (leave the zombies in) in the army deal and the mega army deal for a regiment of large infantry (zombie trolls, wights or werewolves) in the army deal and a horde in the mega army it’d be a lot better. The balefires could be changed out for a troops of wraiths or a 2nd regiment of zombies. By this, the army deals would be a much better deal for the customer!


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