I’m never taking the Pharaoh again!

It’s inevitable that whenever we publish any kind of balance recommendations that we will get some very loud voices telling us that we’ve done a terrible job, we’re breaking the game and there’s always that one guy who ragequits over the changes.

There seems to be a band of players in every game who are looking to win purely through the strength of their army list. If a faction can’t be “cheesed” in this way then it’s terrible in their eyes. In my opinion, this is why Orcs got such a bad rep in KoW – they’re not underpowered per-se, but don’t have any “OH MY GOD THAT’S BROKEN” units.

Recently one gamer stated that they would never, ever take Pharaoh’s with Defence 5. They’re apparently unusable without De6. I’m surprised that this is still a thing since we first published the De6 to De5 amendments months and months ago, so I thought that the immediate reaction would have died down.

So let’s examine it.

Versus the Abyssal Champion

Both myself and Jeff Swann extensively use the Abyssal Champion in our Forces of the Abyss armies. Jeff is one of the best US players and has proven his worth time and time again, including taking first place at an event using Trident Realms with an army list that he hadn’t devised or even seen before the event.

So, let’s do some comparisons to see how truly terrible and useless the Undead Cursed Pharaoh is now with De5 and Wings of Honeymaze. Here are the stats:

The only thing not displayed in this table is that the Abyssal Champion hasn’t taken an artefact, so could take something extra.

Here are the differences:

Well this is interesting.

The only Special Rule that the Champion gets that the Pharaoh doesn’t is Fury. Why have I crossed that out? The Pharaoh has +2 Nerve over the Champion, so if you roll a 13 or 14 versus the Champion and it’s Wavered, that’s still a Steady for the Pharaoh anyway. There’s also another +2 to the Rout value. Fury is absolutely wiped out from the comparison. On top of all that it has Lifeleech, so even if it had the same Rout Nerve value then it would stick around far longer than the Champion does.

The Pharaoh has an extra point of Crushing Strength so stands out above the Champ In combat quite significantly. It also has Surge(6), but given that the Pharaoh spends most of its time in combat this isn’t used often, however it is can’t be completely discounted since a well-timed Surge from such a manoeuvrable character can be game winning.

The only benefits that the Champion gets over the Pharaoh is that it is 10 points cheaper and can take an artefact.

Would I pay 10 points for my Champion to lose Fury and the ability to take artefacts, gain an extra point of Crushing Strength, get +2 Nerve and Lifeleech (ignoring Surge because Abyssals deliberately don’t have access to it)?

Hell. Yes.

Same army redundancy

Sometimes a unit can be great in one army but not so much in the other because of the supporting units it can draw on. Is there anything army wise that makes the Pharaoh redundant in the Undead army?

Personally I don’t really see anything. Both units operate without support so it’s not like they need screening chaff. In the Undead list, there is the Revenant King who’s 25 points cheaper but has -1 Me, –1 Nerve, -1 Crushing Strength and no Regeneration. I mean, you get a lot for 25 points and the only other difference between the two is that the Revenant King can be mounted on a horse for 20 points.

With the Wings upgrade the Pharaoh is 45 points more expensive. For 45 points you get:

  • +2 Speed
  • +1 Melee
  • +1 Nerve
  • +1 Crushing Strength
  • + Regeneration(5+)
  • + Fly
  • + Smaller base (harder to block)

That’s a lot of benefits for 45 points. The damage increase is substantial (improving from 1.7 damage on average against De4 to 2.7 damage) and the Pharaoh is much, much more survivable with Regeneration. The only “bad” things going for the Pharaoh is only being Height 1 and not being able to take an artefact.

Would I ever take the Pharaoh with De5?

Yes, I would. I absolutely would. It fulfils the same role as my beloved Abyssal Champion, does it better and for only 10 points more.

I’m not the worlds best player by any stretch but feel that I get very good usage out of my Champ (he’s often my MVP). I also know that one of the best US players swears down by using the Abyssal Champ.

Is the Pharaoh redundant or unusable with De5? Absolutely not.