Friday, 15 August 2014

A nagging rumour or aghast? Nagash is back!

The Boy is Back in town! Nagash surfaces!

Rumours running rife, and the first picture from the next White Dwarf surfaces. Nagash is back in town!
What will his stat line be? I note "phenominally powerful" and "terrifying in combat" is bandied about in the text. So the Darkness descends...

Absent for several decades, Nagash returns to a table-top near you! Second in what may be a string of bad attitude lords being re-released. Belakor came first, but flew under the radar for a great extent, as no new model was released, only the "Battlescroll"

Is this GWs attempt to stem the haemorrhage of players from WHFB to Warmachine ?
Are we to see a change in the game with the next edition that will allow you to field these "super-characters?

Will WHFB go the way of 40K? All monsters and overpowered lords? I sincerely hope not.

Have they considered cost and field-ability ? A 600 or 800 pt lord may be well neigh useless for most 2000-3000 pt games (Read 2400 comp). Or will this release indicate the start of the game changing ?

Can't say the first photo of the model rocks my boat. Judging from the only picture leaked, as above, I can see several spindly bits that will break off easily. The ghost toasties floating around him suggests that he's not made for ranking up, but I may be wrong on that account. Just a little too many echoes of Alien Brood Mother there for my liking. Or did he bump off some Tyranids along the way ?. Anyhow, no-one will be able to say he's spineless. He has at least 7 of those.

So, Nagash 101, boys and girls, for those of you who were not even a glint in your daddy's eye when he last walked the Warhammer World":

Nagash is the First Necromancer and arguably the most evil character to ever curse the Warhammer Fantasy world. Ever. He is also a combat tank and will go in hand-to-hand combat with the likes of Sigmar.

(Nagash also happens to be the name of a town in Northern Ethiopia, Africa, sad, if that was your hometown. Blame GW, but then again they dreamed up a name like Heirich (ahem) Kemmler. Really? I know a lot of names are a it tongue-in-cheek, like Tik-Tak-To. But Kemmler's getting a bit close to the bone. But that's an aside...)

Nagash started as a hierophant consecrated to the gods of Nehekhara while his brother was the priest-king of Khemri. This was because, in Nehekhara, the firstborn sons of the nobles were given to the temples as priests and the second sons became the kings. Miffed about this, he decided he to increase his magical power. Initially, his reasons also included that he thought his brother Thutep was a weak king, jealously over wanting Thutep's wife, and Nagash thought only he could make Khemri great again. Unfortunately for the Khemri, he got his hands on a Dark Elf sorceresses (or two) who'd been taken prisoner. She (they) spilled the beans.

From her(them)  he learned about the winds of magic and also figured out how to increase his own life expectancy and probably dabbled in magic much more evil than he initially intended. Regardless, when Nagash was done with the Druchii, he brutally killed them and consumed their souls. (When someone can out-evil and out-betray Dark Elves, you know they're pretty mean)(Well he didn't really out-evil them, he out-smarted them).

After many experiments which mostly demanded human sacrifice, and other sick stuff, Nagash created an elixir which allowed him to stay alive. This elixir would be the basis for the creation of the Vampire Counts.

Nagash killed his brother, and sorta mummified alive his wife and then started a war on Nehekhara which ended in the complete annihilation of all life there. Unfortunately for him the Skaven sabotaged his plans of world domination and he got chopped to pieces by the last king of his former nation. When Alcadizzar killed Nagash, it wasn't through any failing on Nagash's part. It was basically the ultimate sacrifice - killing Nagash cost Alcadizzar literally everything. His kingdom - the largest empire in the world - was killed to a man, his family died, his sanity was shattered and the weapon he needed to use to kill Nagash was so potent it killed the wielder as well. That weapon was created by the Skaven; the Council of Thirteen were so terrified of Nagash they stopped their in-fighting and co-operated (for the first time in Skaven history) to create it.

His story doesn't end here; he came back after a couple of centuries (the Skaven had vaporized his remains so it took a lot of time for him to reconstitute himself). After wiping out the Skaven who'd taken over his fortress, Nagash raised an army and attacked the newborn Empire of Man. During the final battle he fought in a duel with Sigmar and nearly defeated him. Sigmar, realizing what was at stake went on a holy rampage and finally crushed Nagash's skull with his hammer. The spirit of Nagash fled the battlefield and went back to his fortress were he recovered, having learned that the world now has powers capable to match his.

Even Sigmar at the height of his power only just managed to defeat Nagash, and even then only by wearing Nagash's own crown to protect him from Nagash's magic. A crown that had pretty much sent Sigmar insane the last time he wore it. No one knows for sure what's he gonna do next but considering his profile it won't be anything pretty.

Why Nagash is so evil

While most evil characters on the game have done their share of bad deeds Nagash has an special place amongst them, the following lists illustrates how sick this beggar is:

  • Entombed his own brother alive and stole his wife.
  • Turned said wife into an agony-ridden walking corpse and kept her that way for centuries. The process he used to accomplish this involved tricking her into drinking the blood of her murdered son; who also happened to be Nagash's nephew.
  • Usurped Nehekhara's throne; then his reign was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and he nearly destroyed the kingdom's economy to build his Black Pyramid.
  • Captured the spirits of his enemies and kept them in eternal torment.
  • Started a war which destroyed most of the Nehekharan cities and killed even more of the population.
  • Broke the covenant between the Nehekharan gods and their people, not only removing the divine powers of the Nehekharans but ensuring that after death they wouldn't be able to go to their gods and would have to stay in a nether dimension forever. Especially jarring if you remember that he used to be the High Priest of their religion.
  • Indirectly corrupted some of the nobility of Nehekhara, who then became the first vampires.
  • Turned a whole tribe of his followers into ghouls because they annoyed him several times by asking him to give them a promised reward.
  • Used his loyal vassals as tools in a terrible incantation to make himself a magic set of armour and then, for the only time in any of his fluff, he does something nice for someone besides himself (he compliments them for exceeding his expectations). After complimenting them he devoured their souls as a thank-you..
  • Started a new war against Nehekhara which cost thousands more lives.
  • Used a horrible plague spell to annihilate the entire Nehekharan civilization after losing the war against them.
  • Raised the Nehekharan dead, turning them into millions of undead minions with the idea of annihilating all life in the world.
  • Almost destroyed the Empire and nearly crippled Sigmar in a duel by using a poisoned blade.
  • Cursed the Vampires with a vulnerability to Sigmar's power after they were too self-absorbed during the war with the Empire to help Nagash out.
  • Corrupted the dragon's graveyard and created the zombie dragons. (Are we to see the return of Zacharias too? Just askin')

While any of the deeds on this list could easily been performed by your average Skaven or Chaos Lord there is a basic difference between them and Nagash, the former usually do this either to advance their entire race, clan, tribe or to appease and/or promote their gods.

Nagash on the other hand doesn't care about anyone, despises the gods and has no empathy for his people. I suspect he gets this tendency from his Druchii teachers.

He corrupted his own nation and a large section of the world for his own personal gain and, so far as the fluff goes, he has never cared or done anything for anyone other than himself, with his ultimate plan being quite literally to turn everything into undead with no will under his command
(So he's basically the Emperor of the Dark side of the Warhammer Fantasy Universe) To be fair, he honestly and misguidedly believes this to be the best thing for the Warhammer world. And he might be right.
While Chaos has a hard time corrupting the undead, Nagash has already managed to steal one of Khorne's favoured champions (Krell).

Replacement Warhammer Fantasy Dark Lord?
All that said, Nagash is sometimes rumoured to be a knock off, attempting to one up the original Dark Lord, Drachenfels. He's not really evil, he's just trying too hard.

Drachenfels is much older than Nagash in the setting, while in real life, Drachenfels fluff dates back to 1989, Nagash's 1994. Nagash was introduced to supplant Drachenfels as the setting's 'dark lord' hence the trying to hard with his over the top evil. Though it may not be over-the-top evil to take Drachenfels out of focus.

You can have more than one 'dark lord' in a setting, otherwise why haven't any of the Everchosens of Chaos fought Nagash? Also, Drachenfels is a backseat kind of dark lord; a subtle manipulator out-living the opposition, going along, taking what he wants along the way. Nagash is intelligent, but also an aggressive, sociopathic control-freak who wants to rule the world.

Functionally, Nagash is Warhammer's big bad wolf to 40k's Abaddon. Except Nagash is notably more competent.
When Abaddon tried to conquer the galaxy, he tried 13 times and basically got nowhere read the lore, apparently the armless wonder had a plan and now all 12 crusades "achieved their goals" and the 13th is still ongoing).
When Nagash decided to conquer Nehekara, only one man survived, and even then it was because Nagash wanted him alive. When Nagash decided to raise up every person who had died in Nehekara over the past 1500 years, he succeeded.

In the Game (recent history)

Nagash was actually a special character back when it was just "Warhammer Armies: Undead" and all the dead boys were united in one armybook. Despite being described as "a pale shadow of his former self" he was an unholy rape-train - a statline with the lowest stats being 6's (init and attacks) and everything else being a 7. Add in a completely un-modifiable 4+ save against everything (including any and all spell effects), a sword that gives him +1 str and lets him use any wounds he causes to heal himself and being one of the most powerful mages in the game making him pretty much unstoppable. (Unless you threw a High Mage at him with Drain Magic and Banishment.)

No original statline easily accessible, but I found this:
Nagash :  650 pts.

M   WS   BS  S  T   W    I     A     L
4       7      4   7   7   4     6     6     10

If the stat-line remains the same, nothing short of the direct intervention of gods would stop him and even then, the world would be a graveyard (Nah, there are some who could arguably beat him: Sigmar, Kroak, arguably Morathi and Malekith, Aenerion; Teclis is described as being if not his equal, then close behind; First Spawning Slann would simply think Nagash out of existence, if they cared).

To keep that from happening, Games Workshop in the past chose to give him what might very well be the single most "derptastic" model to ever blight a tabletop with its presence, an unholy abomination of fail so ridiculous that it makes the Tyranid Biovore look like a towering monument of awe and might in comparison. Even the beardiest of cheesemongers thought twice before fielding it, knowing all too well that they would pay for it not only in army points, but in dignity and self-respect. (Vide supra)

The old Nagash had the nickname of the "Undead Clown" in some circles. His enormous hat, the shoulder flaps, boat like pointy shoes, uninspiring pose and the confused look on his face all contributed to this model not being particularly liked. Strange bthat this new model would appear to have a bit of the tyranid in its genepool...

(Pictures and text from blogs around the web, with some moderation and embelishment on my part. No copyright or such infringement intended. Happ to credit anyone. Just let me know)

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