Friday, 9 August 2013

Thoughts on Lizards

Well, this is rather late off the press – apparently writing stuff about WFB is not an acceptable thing to do during (and shortly after) one’s wedding – who knew?!

Plenty has been written and said about the new Lizard book since its release – there is even a review out (a rather good one that that – check out the Kiwihammer podcast (as ever, probably over à somewhere)).

So, being the ever-so-humble sort, I thought I would take a break from following the ETC on twitter and get back into the swing of things and add to the verbiage on the subject.

The thing about being the most ancient of races, living in pre-historic ruined temples surrounded by the eternal jungle and soaking in the ceaseless rays of the sun is that you are unlikely to change much. Prior to this book we have had (at times subtle) monumental changes in armies (and the corresponding Meta): Ogres gave us out first flat out combat army and heavy shock Monstrous Cavalry. Tomb Kings gave us an overpowering magic phase and monster spam. Vampires gave us yet more Monstrous-class troops and flying/ethereal threats. Empire saw the rise of the Demigriffs, the vanishing of infantry and the birth of the much-accursed 1+ armour save armies. Warriors gave us high impact combat unit spam (and the re-emergence of the Chuck Norris-class characters). Daemons have us implacable, pseudo-unkillable troops, a crazy table to roll on and a silly chariot-cannon. High Elves gave us further flying monsters, spammable fast cavalry, the rebirth of BS shooting and the two most powerful magic items in the book. Even the very first book, O&G have us cheap Monstrous Infantry, mass reliable infantry, hand grenade units and cheap chaff.

So, what have the scions of the Old Ones brought to bear?

In short, almost nothing new. What you have here is a seriously nerfed facsimile of the old book (you can still hear two thirds of the Warhammer world rejoicing!). It is far too early to say they are terrible my any means. But they have brought nothing seriously new to the party – just slightly more/slightly different of the same (they did not even get more options in Core). Three new units that do much the same the book used to do: Rippers are flightier version of Terradons (without the priceless usefulness of being able to flee); Bastiladons and Trololololodons (or whatever they are called) are more monsters in an army that had plenty to begin with. They did not even get an unique lore of magic

So, nothing sticks out as overly “new” or meta-shifting. The most powerful build (in the UK tournament scene) is probably some variance of a skink cloud (despite the significant drop in leadership), and if you ran saurus, you still probably will.

So, in brief summary of my initial views on the units in the book (with the important caveat I have not played too many games with them yet):

Despite the hammer wielded onto the hapless Slann, they are still probably the central focus of the list. The no longer get access to free dice, they are now limited in magic access, and are more expensive, but they are still great (you would think they were awesome if you never used an old one). Sure, the dual Slann is dead. But the lore attribute for High (with some luck) could give you a vast access to spells as you need them, and the ability to go with the 8 signature lores of magic is powerful and allows the Slann to be a magic artillery piece. Sadly, however, the best option may well turn out to be simply be as a generic lvl4 of Death or Metal. Why do I spout such heresy? The army is already good at incremental damage (in its skink variety) what I think always made the Slann a daddy was the ability to drive through the big wins, and in Death Magic (the snipes, Doom and Darkness and Purple sun) and Metal (Searing Doom, Plague of Rust and Final Transmutation) you have the ability to cripple the enemy with a magic phase. Time will tell though, and you could viably run an army without one of these now.
Old Bloods – you’ll see more of these as the Slann will now generally cost fewer points. Unfortunately the Blade of Realities (which is so full of epic winningness) is hard to fit in as well. As ever, a better Scar Vet.

Scar Vets – having to pursue, won’t matter too much a lot of the time (used most often as tanks), but on occasion will spell their doom. Still good, though lost access to some go-to magic items, and marginally cheaper. Can now have the mighty (well, sort of) Carnosaur. If you are prepared to gamble with 400 odd points this could be a fun option (and one I will take up at some point I think!)
Skink Priest – nice cheap wizards/scroll caddies. Access to Beasts is interesting (love the idea of S4 javelins), though it’s a dice-hungry lore.
Skink Chief – great fun, cheap… but points are tight in a lizard list, not sure how much used these guys will be.

Skinks – Gold as ever. Ld5 is a big deal though.
Saurus – same as ever… with an extra 1/3 of an attack each. Having to pursue something to consider is you use these guys. If you liked them before you will like them more now.
Skrox – significantly worse I think. Access to S7 is great, but being stomped/Krox attacked puts a dent in their stride. The likely lack of Light magic limits the utility of these two core combat units a lot unfortunately.

Chameleons – always good – ld5 is an issue
Terradons – as above really. They have gone up quite a lot in points though (still worth it)
Rippers – in land of infantry these could be good. Decent counter chaff unit. Some fun to be had spamming these bad boys, but there is a lot in the game that is not scared of T3 monstrous flying cavalry. Could be good verses Lizardmen though.
Bastiladons – fine. Not all that tough, very few wounds, though decently armoured. The major issue here is they are not stubborn. The magic missile option is potentially gold, and the passive buff decent enough. Issue I feel is that they eat up precious magic dice. Saying that, I could see these being commonly used. Cannon-bait alas.
Swarms – some fun to be had here. VC bat swarms are better, and you don’t see that many of those.
Saurus Cav – too expensive, not hard hitting enough. I still like them, and they could mow through t3 infantry decently enough. I used them before, will use them again. But a price comparison with other cav in the game is a bit depressing. Had really hoped they would make these core (or at least unlock it with a character), a missed opportunity.
Temple Guard – the scaly fist of the list. The only slot for a magic banner (razor banner for me), decentish strength, better initiative than saurus and the ultimate bunker. These guys became interesting as soon as the rule that Slann do not have to join them came out. Now, they would be much better if they were stubborn by default, but still interesting. A big target, and nice-cigar levels of expensive, they are probably the most reliable combat element to force through big wins when the skinks have weakened stuff enough. Am trying these out, will see how they rock.
Stegadon – same as it was, without the BS shielding of a howdah crew. A but cheaper, but the upgrades eat into that saving. I like them, but not all that in the land of the cannon (which lacks infantry to tap dance on).

Salamanders – great. Fabulous. Sure, they can no longer march and lost 2 pips of armour piercing. But auto panic is awesome, and S4 makes them better against their targets – infantry.
Razordons – good fun. Got cheaper, and upgraded to Monstrous Beasts. Sure their shooting attack is so many levels of utter epic fail, but as a cheap mage/warmachine  hunter and fleeing chaff unit (tip: face them backwards!) it is hard to complain.
Ancient Stegadon – great. Cheaper, the sharpened horns upgrade could scare Daemon Princes as the like. Cannon bait as ever, but good fun. Can even take an engine if you (somehow) have a spare 50 points.
Trolololololodon – eh? Take model (that people seem to love), throw random assortment of random (yes, so random I said it twice) rules that make it not any good at any particular thing… charge 200+ points for it. This thing is in Giant territory.

In summary, there is still some real power in the book I think. In a different category to the last book, but still good. Sure, the quest to find out how to deal with 1+ armour/WoC will cover many a blog post of its own, but there is something important to note here – this book is encouraging builds significantly more fun than previous ones. In the UK scene of predominantly no scenarios I think “the” build will be skink cloud to the extreme, but time will tell.

I’ll leave it there – I have to go off and practice my Slann-Fu.


  1. Think this is unduly pessimistic. I don't think the "new" Slaan is any worse than previous party slaan when Contemplations taken into account. Magic in general is better with Beasts for Skink Priests

  2. The slann is still the most powerful wizard in the game. Its cost actually increased, because you will see at least 4 disciplines on him, he can still generate extra dice, he's awesomely protected, and has access to a load of spells. If the "loremaster" of high magic is ruled like it doesn't replace the slann's more of choice, the guy has 15 spells, plus the chance to exchange some of them.
    Temple guard is the new stable point in any army, they got cheaper and better. Any good list will be built around these guys, with a saurus block/skrox as companion, the usual skink spam and some support units (I'd say bastiladon and ancient steg).
    Overall the book lost his "7th edition brokeness", but I can see it at least on oar with other 8th armies.

  3. I was worried about appearing overly pessimistic.

    I think that it would be unrealistic, however, to claim that everything is as it was. The book has taken a massive nerf. Is this a bad thing? By all accounts definitely not! I am used to it - the VC book also took a hit. Thats fine, and the book is still powerful.

    The only sad thing really is that the power appears to lie exactly where the previous power was - little brand new has been added (dont get me wrong, I do like some of the new stuff, and am enjoying Bastiladons at the moment). Unfortunately nothing to change anything has been released.

    I have also been running TG. The issue with them is that whilst good, they are still very expensive, and not all THAT good. They are not from your core points, and are not Monstrous-Cav level good, and (very importantly) are not naturally stubborn. I have been running them, but the 400+ points the unit costs means there is a LOT you don't get in the list.

    Saying that, all depends on what you like. If you are a fan of lizardmen blocks, all good. It can work. If you are a fan of the cloud, then there is nothing that will stop you using it/is so obviously better you wouldnt run it.