Vanguard: Nighthaunt – Beginners 1,000 Point Army

Nighthaunt – the true children of Nagash

Have you felt the chill of the grave rising through a faint mist? You enjoy painting pale figures stalking out of the horizon and falling on your enemy like the tide? Or have you read the lore and know that Nagash is the true inheritor of the World that Was and you want to join the right team? Have you decided it is time to up your miniature storage game?

Even before the release of the new battle tome we were seeing a small resurgence including a top 10 at LVO for the Nighthaunt. A faithful band of followers, leavened with new recruits, has kept the faction alive in the competitive scene. With a new tome, and the move to smaller hero based armies, it’s perhaps one of the best times to start Nighthaunt.

When they were first introduced the Nighthaunt were competitive but they faded a little with the arrival of the Elves (Daughters of Khaine, Idoneth and finally Lumineth). As an army they reward considered play and take a little bit to get the best from. Nighthaunt suits a player that is willing to take their time and wants to make the most of their opponents’ mistakes.

AoS 3.0 and the new battle tome sees a major change in their play style but they retain their mobility which is one of the best reasons to play them. They also have access to and strong synergy with possibly, at least in my opinion, the most interesting model in the game – Nagash.

The Nighthaunt Vanguard set makes it easy to get into the army and gives you a reasonable starting position.

Let’s look at building a 1000 point list from the Vanguard:Nighthaunt set.

The List

Allegiance: Nighthaunt

– Procession: Emerald Host

– Mortal Realm: Ghur

– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line

Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

Knight of Shrouds (135)*

– General

– Command Trait: Ruler of the Spirit Hosts

– Artefact: Pendant of the Fell Wind

Reikenor the Grimhailer (190)*

– Lore of the Underworlds: Shademist

20 x Chainrasps (220)*

– Reinforced x 1

10 x Grimghast Reapers (165)*

10 x Grimghast Reapers (165)*

3 x Spirit Hosts (125)*

*Battle Regiment

Total: 1000 / 1000

Reinforced Units: 1 / 2

Allies: 0 / 200

Wounds: 61

Drops: 1

The Cost

Reiknor the Grimhailer£26$42€34$55
Grimghast Reapers£60$100€80$77
Battletome: Nighthaunt£32.50$55€42.50$84

With typical game store discounts (15% to 20%) this would reduce to between AUD$338 to AUD$353.

Key Units

I’ve used the full Vanguard box including the Knight of Shrouds. This creates some issues with the choice of small heroes, for a 1000 point list I would normally prefer to use a Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed and a Guardian of Souls. Instead I’ve used Reiknor to provide some mobile threat and casting with the Knight of Shrouds.

The first key unit though isn’t a unit, the Procession, Emerald Host, will get a lot of work done for us through the Emerald Curse

The Emerald Curse

After armies have been set up but before the first battle round you can pick D3+1 units on the battlefield. At the end of each battle round you roll a dice for each unit you picked, on a 2+ it suffers D3 mortal wounds (D3+1 for monsters)

That’s at least 8 free wounds per game (on average) and potentially many more. The curse could easily clear a battleline unit per game.

Knight of Shrouds

Our General in life and now in death, chosen today because Reiknor can’t take a command trait and for Nighthaunt one trait is very important – Ruler of the Spirit Hosts. This brings half of a destroyed unit back once per game which can be helpful with the 4+ save (and 6+ ward) most of your 1 wound units have. Unfortunately while he’s effective in combat his warscroll abilities are not useful in our list. The Spectral Overseer ability allows a unit to Redeploy or Unleash Hell without using a command point. We have one shooting unit and it’s not in this list. He does have an ability to allow successive activation in the fight phase which can be useful. Otherwise he brings 5 attacks hitting and wounding on 3s with -1 rend and 2 damage. 

WeaponNo. of AttacksAvg HitsAvg WoundsAvg Damage 
Sword of Stolen Hours53.3333.05*6.11
*Includes auto-wound on 6 effects

Reiknor the Grimhailer

With lots of choices for heroes I’ve used Reiknor, who is a bit expensive at 190 points, because he gives some mobility and is a wizard with combat capability. To get value from him you will need to use him in combat but with only 7 wounds and a 4+ save he can be pretty squishy even with a 6+ ward. He needs to be accompanied by the Spirit Host for their “bodyguard” ability which restricts him to an 8” move. So what does he bring? His combat skills first:

WeaponNo. of AttacksAvg HitsAvg WoundsAvg Damage 
*Includes auto-wound on 6 effects

As a wizard he may cast one spell and deny one spell. I’ve given him Shademist which has a casting value (CV) of 6 and allows him to grant a friendly unit within 12” -1 to incoming wound rolls. He can place this on himself. He also brings special ability to improve his casting (Corpse Candle) and a warscroll spell (Wraithstorm).

Corpse Candle

In your hero phase, before this unit attempts to cast a spell, you can say that you will snuff out a corpse candle. If you do so, pick either this unit or 1 enemy unit within 12” of this unit. The unit you picked suffers 1 MW. If the MW was suffered by an enemy unit, add 1 to the casting rol. If the MW was suffered by this unit, add 3 to the casting spell.


A spell with a casting value of 7 and a range of 12”. If successfully cast, pick 11 enemy unit within range and visible to the caster. That unit suffers D3 MW, if any models are slain that unit immediately suffers an additional D3 MW.

Corpse candle is extremely useful, easily reducing Shademist to a CV of 5 (>60% success rate) as well as inflicting a MW. The other profile is more situational but if you used Corpse Candle and then Wraithstorm, Wraithstorm would go off on a 4 (>75% success). Wraithstorm is situational though but a good way of chipping a hero or potentially clearing a small screen. To get both damage rolls the best targets are single wound models but a single D3 is still stronger than Arcane Bolt.




Our big block of ghosts with attitude, there is nothing subtle or amazing here. They all have 1 wound, a 5+ Save (and 6+ Ward), hit on 4s, wound on 4s and do one damage. But they can also be brought back to life by our heroes. On the charge they add one to wound rolls. What does this all mean (if they can all hit the same target). And they autowound on 6s.

WeaponNo. of AttacksAvg HitsAvg WoundsAvg Damage 
Malignant Weapon* 4122.772222
*With all-out attack and a charge, +1 to hit and +1 to wound.

You might not get the whole block of 20 into the same target but they are capable of overwhelming a lot of threats. The autowound on 6s means more than 6 wounds on average which increases the number of wounds significantly. The Nighthaunt Ethereal ability (that grants the 6+ ward) lets them fall back and charge every turn. It’s easy to make them wound on a 3+.

The downside is that they have no save against -2 Rend or better, realistically a charging Fulminator could remove the unit in one round.

Grimghast Reapers

Our hammer units in this list with their Rend – 1 weapons and their 3 attacks so long as there are more than 5 models in each unit. Run here as smaller 10 model units to give operational flexibility, it is always worthwhile to have the Death Knell in the unit.

WeaponNo. of AttacksAvg HitsAvg WoundsAvg Damage (pre-saves)
Slasher Scythe and Death Knell3012.513.3314

The Death Knell would be a lot better with flat damage rather than D3 but it still contributes reasonable damage. Against a 2+ save (-1 Rend makes this 3+) the unit will still do 4.66 damage and are threatening against a lot of armies. Unfortunately they can be removed if they are left exposed without Shademist or All out Defence.


Spirit Hosts

They have an incredible 6 attacks each, in this list they are here mostly to hold backline objectives or, when required to act as bodyguards (their new ability lets them take a wound for a hero within 3” on a 3+ in place of the heroes ward save). The downside is no rend and only one damage per wound but they still autowound on 6s.

WeaponNo. of AttacksAvg HitsAvg WoundsAvg Damage (pre-saves)
Spectral Claws and Daggers187.53.75+36.75

Concept of Operations

This list is meant to be straightforward and adaptable. Everything is in a battle regiment to give control of priority, however there is an option to place 3 of the battle line infantry into Expert Conquerors and the remainder into a Battle Regiment. Expert Conquerors makes the infantry count as 3 models on objectives – the Chainrasp would count as 60 models. Our Preference is to go second to make your opponent come to you (keep out of line of sight if they have shooting) and hopefully get the double turn. You can also redeploy up to 3 units via Vanishing Phantasms into reserve before the start of combat and then set them up in ambush (9” from the enemy). 

Then buff the Chainrasps and use them to dominate the centre of the field (or anywhere else).. I mean grant them All out Attack, with a CP, from the Knight of Shrouds and make sure they charge or fallback and charge each turn. In activation, from the second round onwards start fighting with your Knight of Shrouds to take advantage of the double activation (your Knight fights and then one of other units immediately – normally the Chainrasps). If you have Grimghast Reapers in range they are a better recipient of AoA and the immediate activation.

Within this list the Spirit Hosts are mostly intended to provide a Bodyguard role to Reiknor but they are also available to take objectives in the rear. This list is vulnerable to shooting (a weakness of nighthaunt) especially Vanguard-Raptors. If they are present try to make sure that at least some of the Chainrasps are not visible and then remove the visible models first. This way you can still return models with the Spirit and Guardian.

In summary this is just a sample of what you could do, from the Vanguard: Nighthaunt box set. I would prefer to replace the HQs with a Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed and a Guardian of Souls for their warscroll abilities and bringing our Triumph into play (975 of a 1000 points). The biggest advantage of the Guardian is his ability to return models which transforms this list into a very frustrating defensive list with bite.

Next Steps

The easiest way to bring this list to 2000 points is to add Nagash, God of the Unquiet Dead. This takes the list to 1955 but you do lose the one drop Battle Regiment. Ideally you’d remove the Spirit Torment (it’s roll is replaced by Nagash) and either have 2 units of 20 Chaingasts and add some Craventhrone Guard or Hexwraiths. You could reinforce the Spirit Hosts into a unit of 6 then.

Alternatively play into the small heroes and bring in Lady Olynder and the Krulghast Cruciator along with the Black Coach for some more punch. I would still look to move to 2 units of Chainrasp and a unit of 6 Spirit Hosts to meet battleline requirements. Myrmourn Banshees and Bladeghast Revenants have done well in the new book and can be useful additions.

Bonus List – Arena of Shades

I started writing using the Arena of Shades box set but I wasn’t happy with the list but I’ve since found synergies that make could make it work really well so as a bonus for anyone still reading I’ve included the list: 

Allegiance: Nighthaunt

– Procession: Scarlet Doom

– Mortal Realm: Ghur

– Grand Strategy: Hold the Line

Triumphs: Bloodthirsty

Scriptor Mortis (155)*

Spirit Torment (115)*

Guardian of Souls (150)*


Command Trait: Ruler of the Spirit Hosts

Artefact: Cloak of the Waxing Moon

Lore of the Underworlds: Shademist

10 x Bladegheist Revenants (175)*

10 x Bladegheist Revenants (175)*

5 x Craventhrone Guard (115)*

4 x Myrmourn Banshees (105)*

*Battle Regiment

Total: 990 / 1000

Reinforced Units: 0 / 2

Allies: 0 / 200

Wounds: 45

Drops: 1

The Cost

Arena of Shades$320
Guardian of Souls*$35+10
Bladegheist Revenants$77
Battletome: Nighthaunt$84

As always, look for discounts.

This list is a lot more fragile but also a lot more aggressive. The Scriptor Mortis is a very interesting model with the ability to make life very difficult for smaller support heroes or even monsters by stripping wounds in every round. Scarlet Doom applies mortal wounds on the charge, and you can fall back and charge every round. You can have one unit of Bladegheist hitting and wounding on 2+ with 3 attacks each. The Craventhorne Guard’s shooting might seem a bit underwhelming until you remember that they may be put in reserve and return in an ambush position within 9” of an enemy and they may shoot through cover. That is you can put them in an obscured position and fire away.

As always I’d love to see how you plan to use Nighthaunt, will you be grabbing some of the new models (Awlach or the Scriptor) or building lists from what you already have. 

4 thoughts on “Vanguard: Nighthaunt – Beginners 1,000 Point Army”

  1. However, Ethereal grants you the ability to ignore any modifier to your save so you are right, Rend won’t apply. My point was that if you leave them exposed in this list they might evaporate on you (with no heros to return models)

  2. The rasps will always have a 5+ save. You also can’t use all out defense on them. Good article overall though

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