When I first began the journey with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, I did so knowing full well that they were the newest Battletome to be released by Games Workshop (at that time). For those that have been dealing with Games Workshop through multiple editions (Dark Millennium anyone??), you know that the latest Battletome (or Codex) in the lineup is usually full of ‘codex-creep,’ which is nothing more than a fancy GW specific term for power-creep.
You’ve seen power-creep in all sorts of things. Dragon Ball Z is famous for it…think about it, the heroes defeat the ‘biggest and baddest,’ only to have something even ‘more bigger and more badder’ come along to take its place and that is a great description of ‘codex-creep.’ Again, I admit that I knew what I was getting into and I tried to mitigate that by playing a non-optimized-to-crush-your-foes-at-all-costs fluffy list of all Cavalry. I also selected the legion I was going to play before the main rules for the faction had released. I play a defensive game and in AoS anything that can add to your armor and make your stuff a bit more durable is a go-to for me which is why I selected the Petrifex Elite.
A bit of background, I don’t power game. I used to back about 15 years ago when I had a win-at-all-costs mentality. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about winning, I mean who isn’t but when it becomes less about the enjoyment of the game and more about winning then something fundamental is lost, at least for me. I don’t let a win/loss record define who I am as a gamer, I let my willingness to be a good sport do that for me. I would rather lose a game and still have fun, then utterly crush someone and be the only one having fun. I don’t go out of my way to lose; I do aim to win but I don’t need to win to have an enjoyable time. I don’t min/max my lists to squeeze every ounce of advantage out of the faction. I just put a theme/fluff list together that I think will be fun to play. Sometimes they don’t work out so well, other times they do.
My list consists of a Liege-Kavalos, a Soulreaper, a Boneshaper, 35 Deathriders (split into two units of 15 and one unit of 5), 6 Necropolis Stalkers, and the Kavalos Lance Battalion. This comes in right around 2110 points. I am sure at some future date; the points will be adjusted and I will have to take some stuff out of the list but that is a problem for a different day. I can’t claim credit for the list, it was posted by the fine folks over at the Games Workshop community site but it was the all Cavalry list I was looking to play…and play it does.
I am taking part in an Escalation League at my local GW store. Great store and great players. Everyone I have encountered so far is pretty cool, you have your fair share of power-gamers, nay-sayers, and chill gamers. The participants of the league are no exception with a nice mix of all three types of gamers. Another thing to note is that my playing in the League is first time I have actually played the Petrifex Elite and wowzers, I was not expecting them to be this much fun to play. I expected them to be tough to kill, with an effective 3+ armor save from being Petrifex Elite and then having a standard army-wide 6+ feel-no-pain and completely ignoring the battleshock phase…they can be neigh unstoppable (Hah! I see what you did there, ponyboy – Gday).
Of course, that also means that they are very stoppable as evidenced by the first game I played with them. I went up again the updated Slaves to Darkness with their fancy new sculpts (and Battletome…’codex-creep’ anyone) and while I did lose, it was by no means easy for my opponent. Since I am playing a 90% cavalry list, neither of us was not expecting to get stuck in quickly. I had charged his line by the second turn. The StD player got in one movement phase before my Cavalry crashed into his front lines and then the true chaos of close combat started. The Ossiarch Bonereapers can hit hard and with careful application of relentless discipline points, I put a significant dent in his frontline before the return strikes.
The Ossiarch Bonereapers are very resilient and adding in that additional +1 to the armor save roll is just bonkers, but when the Slaves to Darkness are followers of Khorne and they are throwing tons of attacks at you, it is a matter of statistics…eventually even the extra +1 wasn’t going to offset the amount of times I had to roll the saves. Ultimately by the end of the game, my opponent won on Scenario and both forces were greatly diminished, with more losses occurring on my side. I think that if it was a larger point game or a game with my full list it might have turned out differently but then again, any time one invokes the Dice Gods, who knows what would happen.
I have since played a number of games with them against Stormcast Eternals, Kharadron Overlords, Skaven, Cities of Sigmar and Nurgle. All of the games have been really fun to play, as much a credit to the players and to the scenarios as anything else. I have rolled over a couple of the armies; I don’t think that my opponents were quite prepared for how quickly I engaged them, and I have been rolled over by those other armies (stupid Skaven Warp-Cannons). The City of Sigmar list I went up against, totaled me with the sheer amount of firepower thrown at me, in one turn I had to make 26 armor saves against his gunline…and the Dice God didn’t smile on me that game. Nurgle is just as durable at surviving wounds as the Ossiarch Bonereapers can be if not more so and that game was quite the slug-fest!
All in all, I am not disappointed by the Ossiarch Bonereapers perform. While they are strong, doubly so when you take the Petrifex Elite legion, they are still beatable by weight of numbers, models or dice. Admittedly I am also not playing up to their full potential, I didn’t deep dive into the Battletome to uncover and unlock all the nuances and synergies that can be had. I haven’t taken any thing outside of what is in my cavalry list. I don’t run any Mortek guards backed up by Harvesters or the Boneshapers ability to bring back models, I don’t even own Katakros (yet…) so I know that I am hamstringing myself (in a competitive sense) but since I don’t play in tourneys or any other competitive events, in the end it doesn’t really matter because I am having fun playing the faction. Even the naysayers are having fun when I throw down dice against them. Even ig I lose the game, I’ll call that a victory .