There has been a lot of talk over the past months on the subject of Special Characters and whether the new Army Books in 8th Edition have made them actually balanced/no longer good/good but different (delete as appropriate depending on the conversation).
This seemed like as good a thing as any to take a look at, if somewhat of a mammoth task, so I drafted in my LizardmenSensei and general WarhammerBrain Jake* to help out on the task, and we even got a guest appearance by the Panzer* himself to let us know what is what in regards to his favourite book.
A massive, unreserved thanks to them for helping to put together what turns out to be quite a long one…
Let us know your thoughts!
*the colours indicate the author of each section (if the writing style doesn’t give it away)
Vlad von Carstein
Vlad von Carstein is the alpha male of the VC army book. The fluff is great, if somewhat Medieval Vampire-generic.
In game terms he suffers from being the progenitor of the generic Vampire bloodline – he is not quite as good at any one thing as a vampire you would make yourself if you so chose, though he is a good all-rounder. For 69 points more than a similarly equipped vampire Lord you get to regain wounds from the Hunger on a 4+ and, his party piece, come back from the dead on a 2+ - as well as some additional bonuses if he has brought his wife with him for a jolly day out of carnage. Now, as every Vampire Counts player would tell you, they may well consider paying 70 points to have a 5/6 chance of resurrection, given the dire results of such a fate on the army and the likely outcome of the game.
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to want to equip your Lord with the other stuff Vlad brings. The Leadership Bomb he offers is of very limited use too much of the time (though occasionally great, and something you could work with), and he has neither the Quickblood (unless Isabella is also in the unit) or the Red Fury (or a better weapon) you would give him if you were equipping him for combat. And being a level 3 wizard, with no further casting benefits, is rather meh. All this being said, having a Vampire Lord that is very hard to kill is an INCREDIBLE asset to Vampires, so perhaps I am being harsh.
I like him personally purely for being what he is, but other than when running a themed list I am not quite sure I would ever actually think of running him. Though now of course I want to.
A Fluff/Good Choice.
Count Manfred von Carstein
Manfred the elder is THE bad guy of Warhammer right now as far as the new books are concerned. And yes, that includes Archaeon moping around in the Chaos Wastes and relying on a GW retcon to be anything more than another loser. Manfred is the villain of the piece – he has not only recently stolen the Phoenix King’s daughter (how movie-bad guy is that!), but is in the act of trying to resurrect Nagash. And dammit, we all want Nagash back!!
Now, if fluff alone is not enough for you, let us see if he is actually any good.
How to put this?
Damn right he is.
He is, in my ever so humble opinion, up there with the most powerful special characters in the game. On the most basic of levels, he is some 21 points cheaper than if you tried to make him yourself – which you wouldn’t, because you can’t, given he has around 120 points more in Vampiric powers than a “normal” Vampire Lord would hope to have. And that’s before you factor in his sword that gives you a power or dispel die per wound. And after all that, you realise he is Loremaster of Vampires AND Death.
Manny (after a while he lets you call him Manny) is an absolute beast. He can even ride a Nightmare or Hellsteed if you want – though it sucks they let you ride an Abyssal Terror but not a Zombie Dragon (not that you would put him on either!). This gives a nice flexibility that is not always seen in the stuck-in-their-ways world of special characters.
Loremaster of two lores is utterly incredible (and unique I believe?) – hard when reading it to fully appreciate how good it is, especially when linked with Master of the Black Arts, and factoring in the magic dice gaining power of both his sword and Death Magic.
The only thing Manfred does not do (other than make a decent cup of tea) is tear things up in combat on a Chuck Norris level (which is actually a big concession for an army that often relies on the Lord to do the fighting), or have a Ward save – which some people freak out about, but he has 5 wounds (and can obviously heal himself), so it’s not all bad.
A Good Choice.
Kemmler is very cool. Note, I did not say “good” there, though maybe I should.
His background is frankly awesome (seriously, if you haven’t read it, read it), the model timeless – and his rules are actually not bad. A Lvl4 Loremaster Vampires is always a good thing to have, and his additional +1 to dispel is a handy bonus. Being able to choose between flight and ethereal can give him all the protection he needs in a lot of matchups –the ethereal also means he can make use of his Skeleton/Grave Guard summoning sword (if he is fighting something pretty terrible admittedly). At 350 points you could even bring along another lvl4 Necromancer into the list.
So why am I not shouting to the high heavens about his awesomeness?
Well, Kemmler suffers a bit due to the meta. The VC army has limited ways of dealing with high armour and hard combat characters (contrary to popular belief, screams don’t always get the job done) and often relies on a mixture of Death Magic and a Vampire Lord. This works well because the army has cheap access to spirit leech, which can benefit from the Lord’s ld 10. Kemmler is only ld 8, so this is markedly less threatening (and he is markedly more vulnerable to enemy snipes). Furthermore, if you are really into getting Loremaster Vampires (his main claim to fame after all), you can raid the Hero slot and save yourself 150 points by picking up Baby Manfred (see below), though admittedly at level 2.
So, a pretty cool choice, just not one you would expect to see a lot of.
A Fluff/Good Choice.
Manfred the Acolyte
At a suitably babyish 200 points, the ikle version of Manfred does give you cheapish Loremaster access. This being Manfred in his bookish teenage years, he does not have access to Death magic or most of the powers he now boasts. But, given is he is just over 50 points more than a lvl2 Vampire (ignoring the cost of the Dark Acolyte power, as you are unlikely to buy that in the first place), it is very hard to argue with the cost. As ever with hero level vampires, he is vulnerable to anything that seriously wants to kill him – just keep him out of danger! One of the main reasons you don’t see him all that much is that VC players tend to look for their cheap Death Magic in this slot.
Still – given that he is the same cost as a lvl4 Necromancer, he is something to consider if you want to run a low level general such as a Strigoi.
A Good/Fluff Choice
The Lord of Undeath has a fantastic model, fantastic background and… Epically underwhelming rules.
For a feared whirlwind of destruction (I am pretty sure everyone appearing in a Gotrek novel is a “whirlwind of destruction” at some point) Chaos Champion of Khorne he is ever so meh.
Sure, killing blow, chaos armour and terror is nice on occasion. But over 200 points on character that does nothing more than fight, and even then with only 3 attacks… I mean, he is 115 points more than (also known as more than twice the cost of) a Wight King, for which you get a +1 WS one better armour save and the special rules for his armour and axe.
Now, the axe is actually pretty cool if you are fighting characters (something encouraged by Krell having to challenge) – odds are he will kill a character if he causes one wound on them as the Axe does his thing… But this is no secret. Why would your opponent let Krell fight his characters? Against things he will most often fight, he is just a very expensive Wight King.
A Fluff Choice
Konrad Von Carstein
The successor to Vlad really does not live up to his predecessor, being a deranged lunatic with no magical power whatsoever.
In game terms he is an interesting option. Sure, he will need to be chaperoned by someone with leadership better than 6 to deal with his stupidity/frenzy, but after that, he is not all that expensive, and pretty great against the right target – basically anything with multiple wounds, not too much armour, and without too high a toughness – so, Ogres basically. With his sword’s ability he has the potential to get 15 attacks in a round… Would be epic to pull that off.
You don’t see him for a decent reason however - normal vampires provide more flexibility, and if you wanted you could get two necromancers for his cost. Basically, he doesn’t answer a problem the Vampire army has.
A Fluff Choice
Isabella Von Carstein
Vlad’s beloved ball and chain is an interesting choice. A 50 point premium on a normal Vampire to give Vlad (and herself) ASF is not actually a bad investment if you are running Vlad (given that Quickblood is 30pt).
The bonus healing of 1 wound per turn with her chalice is nice, if not over powered given the army can do that anyway. If she dies Vlad gets Frenzy and Hated (and vice versa) – in editions gone by this would be worth it alone when Frenzy doubled your attacks, but now not so much. Not much else to say about her really… she doesn’t have all that many rules!
A Fluff/Good Choice (if running Vlad)
Greasus Goldtooth, 545 points
The ultimate monster in the Ogre list. This is the fat lads' Karl Franz, our Archaon, our Tyrion.
Unfortunately he's also a 645 point handicap. His base size is absolutely gargantuan meaning he tacks onto the side of a unit, and slows them down to his M4.
On paper the benefits of taking him don't look too bad. He's S10 and does D3 wounds with effectively an 18" War Banner, auto rally and a 4++. Those items on a 300 point Tyrant who can fit into a unit, no problem. Me being me, I'd probably take him.
But on something this big, this expensive and this much of a pain to actually shift around? That's a different argument. The fact is that in this day and age he's simply never going to see combat, with every chaff unit in the enemy army between him and anything he wants to fight.
Top Gear Award. Ambitious, but rubbish.
Skrag the Slaughterer, 425 points
He looks pretty good on first inspection. Decent stats, Killing Blow, L4 wizard, a mini version of the Tally of Pestilence. So far so good.
So. What protection do you get for your 425 point investment? None? Ah.
That cauldron buffs units? And lets him take unlimited Special choices? Ace! What do you mean, only applies to Gorgers?
I meant what I said in a previous entry. Gorgers are so bad you will want to waterboard yourself in your own tears. They just... Yuck. No. And you have to pay 425 points to make them better, and those are 425 points that will fall over in a stiff breeze.
Really, really wanted Skrag to be good, like I desperately wanted Gorgers to be worth taking. Sadly I could never endorse anyone taking either.
Bianca Butcher Award. Even if you have some strange fetish and think you may want to, don't.
Golgfag, 260 points
If you can roll dice like the erstwhile host of 6dicemonkeys, the rt hon Mr Tom Hale, them this guy might be for you. Statline is standard Bruiser fare, but what sets him apart is you roll 2D6x10 at the start of each game and then spend that amount of points on magic items.
That gives you fairly useful tailoring potential. Facing Empire or Warriors? No issue, cue no armour save swords. Chaos Dwarfs? Dragonhelm and Ogre Blade, then go K'Daii hunting.
The issue though is that it is just potential. Tournament players will be all revved up at what they can do, then roll that 2 or 3 and realise all they can give him is a Seed of Rebirth. You still can't duplicate magic items so the important stuff is likely already in the army which will limit options severely.
Could be worse, and if you're prepared to accept the occasional snake eyes screwing up your plans he may well be worth a punt. You don't have to take his Maneaters unit and limit the skills they take so he is usable. Just don't rely on him.
England at 6 Nations Award. Best one here, but that's not saying very much...
Bragg the Gutsman, 210 points
Such a missed opportunity.
This is one of the coolest models GW have put out in a long time. I love the imagery and dreaming what he could have been.
There's just one problem. He's total cack in game.
What you have here is a character that absolutely must get into combat, and when there challenge the hardest enemy character. Heroic killing blow, and if you win the challenge the enemy loses all rank bonuses and Steadfast.
But the getting into combat is where it all starts to fall apart for an I3 character with no protection at all. The things you want him to fight will tear him apart long before he gets to strike, and the HKB and associated benefits only work in that challenge so you can't stick him on the end of a unit and hope the enemy don't notice.
Tom Loyn Award. All mouth and trousers, nothing in either.
Settra the Imperishable.
While he does have a 4+ ward save, Settra is rather costly for a model that isn't going to be getting a Look Out Sir (though a Herald may help). He suits a mobile aggressive army - I've typically seen him leading chariots and granting them his exceptional WS7, often supported by additional chariot units who if close enough also get that benefit. The 18 inch Inspiring Presence helps with mobility as well. Settra himself hits very hard, with Strength 5 impact hits and S6 no armour saves flaming with 5 WS7 attacks. The problem there being flaming - he'll be easy to neutralise. Basically Settra is a big risk - the army will likely hit incredibly hard against the right opponents, but face heavy cannon fire or the right threats and you'll have no hope at all.
The Herald Nekaph
Nekaph gets a pretty cool magic weapon in the Flail of Skulls, and the challenge benefits are kind of cool, but he fundamentally isn't hard enough in statline to take advantage of it.
High Queen Khalida
I'm sure a lot of people will remember Brian 'Hobby Killer' Carmichael taking out Throne of Skulls with a Khalida list, and that effort has spawned a number of copycats since (I seem to recall a podcast episode about the list that will tell you more about how to play it). Khalida in a big archer unit is fundamentally scary - if there are lightly armoured targets out there you'll take off whole units at a time. That said, the army is quite vulnerable to being gotten close to, and you really do need to be on the ball with your blockers. The modern metagame is also less friendly to the army; Warriors for example I might expect to just walk over the top of you with all their fast resilient threats. Basically you'll have some very strong matchups for and against you; and hence will need to be prepared to just lose some games even as you just win some others.
Grand Heirophant Khatep
Khatep gets Loremaster on the Nekeharan lore, and to reroll casting attempts (even if Irresistible) - that's some pretty cool casting ability. The Scroll of the Cursing Word can at least intimidate people into changing their casting patterns. On the other hand you pay 100 points more than a liche high priest with an earthing rod; and a lot of Tomb King armies rely on either Light or Death on a second High Priest, which rather wastes Khatep's capabilities. Even if you do take Khatep, you'll want another wizard for a Scroll and yet another character to carry Magic Resistance; all of which will add up points in an army that isn't known for its undercosted models. Khatep isn't bad per se, he has some very powerful abilities, but I think the most competitive armies won't end up using him.
Arkhan the Black
Arkhan is a very powerful character. Talk to Mark Wildman or listen to Bad Dice on Adepticon - that ability to save dispel dice to throw in your turn, combined with Death magic and the usual Tomb King magic bonuses, can give you an utterly relentless magic phase that can win games outright. Costly, but unlike Khatep he comes with Death, a more threatening lore (and Level 5 is hardly something to turn one's nose up at.) You probably want some Magic Resistance to back it up, but Arkhan can be the foundation of an incredibly threatening army at range.
While he does have 4 wounds and Regeneration, T3 and being unable to join units makes Apophas reasonably vulnerable. That said, he isn't *that* expensive, so I can see using the Terror-causing breath-weapon-enabled Apophas as a flak hunter and flank harassment unit.
Ramhotep the Visionary
Ramhotep, by contrast to Arkhan, lets you play more of a combat approach to the Tomb Kings. You need to be careful which Constructs you take with him, but getting a rerolling armour save on Necropolis Knights can be quite solid - less so in a meta full of monstrous cav and units designed as an answer to them, but still hardly something to turn your nose up at. Frenzy on his unit could, I suppose, be quite useful in the right circumstances in a more combat approach to the army. Ramhotep I'd say used to be amazing, and is now downgraded to merely very solid due to the metagame shifting around him.
Or, somewhat more formally- Karl Franz von Holswig-Schliestein I, Protector of the Empire, Defier of the Dark, Emperor Himself and the Son of Emperors, Elector Count of Reikland and Prince of Altdorf, is leader in the mould of Harrison Ford-not-letting-terrorists-take-over-my-plane or Bill Pullman-I’m-going-to-blow-the-alien-spaceships-out-of-the-sky, as opposed to, you know, what you would expect from someone described as the greatest statesman in the Old World.
I’ll be up front about this – I like him, if for no other reason than he can ride a dragon, and dragons are cool. Sure, you can’t ride no dragon at 2400pts, but that’s the best of both worlds – using the guy who *could* take the dragon, but with an excuse not to. He is probably the best fighter in the Empire book, but at the end of the day he suffers from being a human combat character – limited amount of damage output. You could see him used, and don’t think he would scream out as a crazy choice – with Ghal Maraz in hand he can do a real number on Monstrous Cavalry and the like. His leadership bubble and MR are both very useful too. The opportunity cost is a factor here – no War Altar for you if running the Hammer, though you can still comfortably fit in a lvl4.
Expect to see him on horseback in a Knight Star. A solid, if not awe-inspiring choice.
A Good/Fluff Choice
The Reiksmarshal (suitably Teutonic title, that) of the Empire has some cool background, second in command of the Emperors’ forces, greatest swordsman in the land, commander of the Reiksguard. I personally also love the model. In game, however… Hmmm. Kurt is a Grandmaster with one better WS than the norm. He brings the bling with a Runefang, but is clearly too cool to bring a shield or a 1+ save to the fight. At 80 points more than a similarly equipped Grand Master I am not sure his special rules are worth the cost… His laurels increasing the combat res from wounds he inflicts could be cool, though highly situational. He is stubborn, which is (obviously) good, but you can get that in various ways in the book.
Grand Masters are not the most commonly seen choice in the first place, and I think if I were to run one I would run my own for cheaper and with better protection.
A Fluff Choice
The Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic is the Golden Boy (see what I sort of did there?) of The Empire’s Special Characters. Bringing the current meta-buster of Metal Magic to the field in Loremaster quantities, and Gelt has the mobility to apply it where he wants. A mammoth +6 to cast is incredible, reducing most of the deck to 2 dice casts. Add in a 3+ ward from shooting, MR to help…
He is 115 points more than a Pegaus-mounted lvl4 (160 really, considering you are unlikely to put a wizard on a Pegasus in the first place). That is akin to the cost of a whole other lvl3 wizard, so the opportunity cost is real. Normally lord-level characters in non-infantry/cavalry form are not something I approve of in sensible lists… The Empire gives you options to get Look Out Sir if you don’t want to rely on yout 3++, so even that is not an insurmountable problem.
The shortness of what I have to say is inversely proportional to how good this chap is.
A Good Choice
Volkmar the Grimm
The Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar is a chariot riding loon. This is a cool thing. Alas that’s where the coolness ends. Assuming you have him on his Altar, he comes in 55 points more than a similarly equipped Arch Lector on Altar. For this you get +1 to cast battle prays and +1 WS. Personally, don’t think that is worth it when common sense would point towards keeping the Pope slightly safer. Not too many points more that if you ran him you would feel robbed, but unless you like the character for fluff reasons fail to see why you would take him. Expected him to be much better than this.
A Fluff Choice
The Elector Count of Averland is clearly the coolest cat in this pack. Coming in at just 7 points more than a similarly equipped General of the Empire, has +1 WS and +1 Attack with his Runefang. Good times (if you happened to want to run an Empire General with a Runefang that is). And then you have his awesome table of insanity. With a roughly 50/50 chance of failing every turn (slightly less with banner of Discipline goodness), the result vary across the spectrum of stupidity, frenzy, hitting his unit, to the absolutely game-winning Tactical Brilliance – getting a free reform with all units within 12” what can then charge/act normally could really swing a game – the 4 result is your friend!
I could see him used in a cavalry-based list, no problems. Adds something fun to the list, without having to pay too much for it – he really is cheap when you consider those points include an 85 point sword!
A Good/Fluff Choice
The Emperor’s personal Champion, his rules don’t quite match up to his fluff or the simply brilliant model. A Captain with improved WS and Killing blow (which works nicely with his sword that allows rerolls to wound), he is also the army’s BSB – with a Hold Your Ground range of 18” which is nothing to be sneezed at. He also has a chance of intercepting wounds intended for Karl Franz, which is rather unlikely to come into play. All this you get for just shy of 80 points more than a normal BSB.
He is definitely not *bad*, and would not shame himself in a (very cool looking) CavStar with the Emperor at its head. I’m not sure he fits the current Empire meta well enough to fit in easily, and the points would probably be better spent elsewhere.
A Fluff Choice
Now this bad boy you do see on the table. The chap who found Valten (whatever happened to him?!) is a Warrior Priest with a WS boost who boasts a 4++, an additional stubborn-inducing prayer and one turn of Chuck-Norris-esque goodness. He also causes Fear, because you don’t mess with a bald guy with a big hammer. This you get for 22 points more than an equivalently equipped Priest, so it’s rather hard to say he is not worth it – assuming you want a mounted Warrior Priest in the first place. Add to an Inner Circle unit of knights. Kill stuff. All good.
A Good Choice
This chap is a missed opportunity. Not in that they failed to do anything cool with him (which they sort of did), but instead of him they could have done a very cool Witch Hunter special character. Instead you have a chap with a bow that has a 50% chance of wounding a Monster (assuming no armour or wards or regen) which then does d3 wounds. Sounds disappointing, but its ok, he has Hated (Monsters)….
A Fluff Choice
Kroq-Gar, Last Defender of Xhotl
Kroq-Gar is basically a rather specialist carnosaur oldblood. He has a few special abilities - a cheap bound Burning Gaze, the ability to generate double combat resolution with his spear, and the Carnosaur getting +1 attack all the time with no Frenzy downsides. They then both have a 5+ ward save. That last is to my eye about the only reason you'd take Kroq-Gar; a normal Carnosaur Oldblood will be cheaper, and with a setup of eg Pirahna Blade, Charmed Shield, Dawnstone, Light Armour and the Potion of Strength, will hit a lot harder too. Personally I feel if you're going to take a Carnosaur that 5+ ward save just isn't enough insurance to make Kroq-Gar worth it. Given that a normal Carnosaur Oldblood isn't all that good anyway and tends to only show up in fluff lists and occasional Manhammer-inspired flights of fancy, this one is a pass.
Lord Kroak, Deliverer of Itza
Lord Kroak is a very interesting model indeed. At face value, a 400 point caster with no bonus dice and only one spell. Then we start looking closer. Kroak has a 3+ ward save and 6 wounds, and makes his Temple Guard unit Unbreakable. The unit then gets a further -1 to be hit both in shooting and close combat, making for one very resilient unit indeed. He is Flammable, but that doesn't come up all that often when in the second rank of a very hard unit. His one spell can't be lost or forgotten, and on a 2+ he turns miscasts into something rather less threatening. He can even cast it multiple times in the same phase.
And then there's that spell. Only 2d6 Strength 4 hits (3d6 against daemons and undead), but that's against all enemy units in 12 inches for a 10+, 18 inches for 18+ or 24 inches for 24+. Not in itself going to take out ultra-hard targets, but repeat casts do a lot of damage to softer enemies, and a big cast can utterly trash a flak-heavy army. Imagine what Wood Elves, Orcs+Goblins or cloud Lizards will do against it! You can even run a flying Skink Priest and Arcane Vassal it through them to hit specific targets.
Then imagine combining him with Tetto'Eko (below), vanguarding forward pre game with a huge unbreakable Temple Guard unit and letting rip. See, who said Manhammer can only be played with big monsters?
All that enthusiasm aside, he does only have one spell and won't touch hard targets, and the big area versions are hard to cast. Still actually at the borderline tournament playable level I reckon, as while it is a gimmick it really will blow open some matchups and hold points very well in others. Having the ability to put Slann in Temple Guard and not worry about blowing them up is big.
Lord Mazdamundi, Lord of the Solar-City
For fans of dinosaurs and inscrutable amphibians, what could be better than a Slann on a Stegadon? More seriously, at just shy of 800 points, you're paying for it. At least he is a Loremaster with a solid set of disciplines, and your only access to a Loremaster on a lore other than High or Heavens. That said, a gimmicky magic weapon and a magic banner that slightly hurts BS-based shooting really aren't worth that astronomical points cost for a very cannon-vulnerable key model. Definitely a pass, sadly.
Gor-Rok, the Great White Lizard
I'll start this by saying: awesome model. Really towers over normal Saurus. The ruleset is solid too - a Stubborn scarvet is always a good start, then add in a 2+ save, Toughness 6, and the ability to resist multiple wounds and killing blow, and he actually has some chance of surviving to take advantage of it. Gor-Rok has credible hitting power too - with rerolls to hit and predatory fighter on a 5+ you can put out a lot of damage against lighter targets, even against tougher foes with the Razor Standard and/or Wildform.
Compared to a custom scarvet with the crown of command and eg dawnstone and luckstone (coming in with light armour and shield at 140 compared to Gor-Rok at 185) I view it as somewhat of a toss-up; in the right army I could see myself using either and being happy to do so. Gor-Rok is probably fractionally tougher and hits notably harder, but evidently costs more. Best run in either Saurus or Temple Guard adding hitting and staying power to the unit, though I can also see tacking him onto a Slann-bunkering unit of Skinks in a pinch.
Chakax, the Eternity Warden
Rather costlier here at a little shy of 300, I just can't see why you pay nearly 100 more than Gor'Rok for this model. He has a basic scar-veteran statline; while you can make a Temple Guard unit Unbreakable, Chakax himself will be vulnerable and it is already Stubborn with the Slann present anyway (which you need for the Unbreakable). He is a credible opponent to midlevel characters but anything hard will still eat him for breakfast, and so I don't feel the high points cost is justified for a vulnerable model. It feels very much like a bunch of abilities tacked onto a scarvet body that all look cool in isolation but combined you pay way too much for.
Tehenhauin, the Prophet of Sotek.
I'll begin by declaring bias - I love the background for this character, and may well end up playing armies using him in club games even if I wouldn't take him to a tournament. He is, notably, probably key to making an all-Skink army work with his Ld8.
For 230 points you don't get an especially tough or hard combat character really, but you do also get a Level 3 Beasts wizard, which isn't anything to sniff at particularly, given he comes with a ward save and the ability to defend himself. The ability to join and enhance jungle swarms is sadly for very fluff games only, as they didn't see fit to give him a Look out Sir in there. Sadly, the cost attached to the anti-Skaven upgrades makes them prohibitive.
Basically, I see this character showing up either in theme armies, or at an outside possibility used as a second decent level wizard in off-the-wall tournament lists, paired with a Slann.
Tetto'Eko, Astromancer of the Constellations
Best special character in the book hands down, and competing for the title across all the 8th edition books.
For less than 200 points you get so, so much. A Loremaster in an army with limited other access to such - and on Heavens, a very strong lore that synergises well with the army. Rerolling whether comets come down, from experience using this ability in the previous book is very strong indeed - making comet a much more reliable threat. You can hold it in the air against war machine parks for higher Strength hits, keep it up for threat, or ensure the comet lands in a key turn.
Rerolling 1s most of the time to cast is pretty good, too - knowing how annoying those turns you fail a good-odds spell are.
Tetto is a bit vulnerable, but can go in the second rank of skinks, and does have a 5+ ward, and doesn't really cost all that much. Still, Death magic will hurt, so he does need protecting (eg paired with a Magic Resistance-enabled Slann.)
For all the above, Tetto would still be good for his points cost and you would still see him in play in a lot of armies. We haven't got to the best bit yet though. He gives D3 of your units Vanguard. That's amazing, really insanely powerful. You can do so much with this.
Consider vanguarding a huge block of Temple Guard (with Lord Kroak?) along with terradon and skirmish backup into the opponent's face early. Imagine vanguarding a saurus cav bus into striking position. Imagine vanguarding stegadons into threat position on the flanks or up forward as anvils and tempting charge bait for counterattacks. So many fun game-changing ideas you can run with this ability.
Sadly, though, I expect him to rapidly see the comp hammer. Why? Because you can pair him with a Death slann in a cloud of shooting and skirmish build, getting back most of the power of the old Double-Slann builds. Plus, you get to vanguard D3 of your skink units forward to act as essentially extra Chameleons, which is so so strong in an already powerful army, and helps reduce the impact of deployment zone clogging that a single-Slann Ld bubble implies in an era of Ld5 skinks. I expect that to be the uncomped go-to build. Horrible (and really tempting...)
Tiqtaq'to, Master of Skies
Sadly an example of poor rules writing, as he has abilities centred around joining units of Terradons, but he can't actually join Terradon units, since flying characters can't join flying units. As such, awful.
Oxyotl, He That Hunts Unseen
We're ending Lizards on a low note - he and Tiqtaq'to are unremittingly poor. He just costs too much for what he does, and when are you going to stand a vulnerable chameleon skink still? I'd rather have another unit every time.
Prince Tyrion, they tell me, is possibly the greatest living warrior and general in the world… I guess the “living” qualifier rules out Vampire Lords and Eternal-Blade-Wielding Great Unclean Ones, and maybe stops it from being a flat out lie.
The (often literal) poster-boy of the High Elf race, Tyrion is actually pretty good (now that GW have seen sense and agreed that his horse should really be a, well… horse). He is seriously hard to kill, packs a punch (his double edged sword having flaming attacks is somewhat of a… double edged sword though (I crack myself up sometimes)). He even has a breath weapon. What he does not have is Stubborn, which is a pity. Tyrion is also in not much of a force multiplier (his boosted ld range is good, but I don’t overly rate in a HE list). You are paying for his combat prowess, and that’s it. Against the wrong targets he is easily out of the game though (be it a flaming ward, or a big steadfast unit). At 410 points, you can just about fit a naked Archmage in a 2400pt list, but no Book of Hoeth is a big concession.
I am not one for saying that just because you can’t take a tooled up lvl4 in the list means something is a bad choice. You can make a powerful CavStar with Tyrion. In a unit with the Banner of the World Dragon his survivability is taken to extreme heights. Add some further characters in there to cause some pain if Tyrion gets caught out by a Dragonhelm wearing scumbag (and maybe a mage with Crown of command hidden at the back) and you have a hammer that will crack more than a few nuts.
He also benefits from not being a ridiculous as Karl Franz. The Phoenix king is tucked away somewhere in the land of statemen and fan-made army books. This is their top fighter and general. The division of roles is something refreshingly… realistic.
A Good/Fluff Choice
The High Loremaster of the Tower of Hoeth has got a nice and shiny pointy stick. So there.
****WARNING! THE LEVEL OF NERFAGE THAT THIS POOR CRIPPLED ELF SUFFERED MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER VIEWERS****
However tightly you hold on to your towel (important things, so I have read, towels), Teclis got smashed in the face by the nerf bat of doom. It was a bloody and messy affair, and everyone and their pets rejoiced when it happened (well, I assume so, my rabbit was in a particularly good mood that week, can’t think of any other reason for it).
I could fill a page with the brokenness that WAS Teclis. But as those unfortunate Liverpool fans will tell you, living in the past will only take you so far. Suffice to say, he got nerfed, bad.
Saying that, so good was he that even after his kneecapping, he is still an extremely powerful wizard. Not quite “Strike me down and I shall become more power than you can possibly imagine”, but still.
A level 5 wizard makes him at a base level a more powerful wizard than either Lord Mazdamundi or Lord Kroak (figure that out how you will) and with either Loremaster High (with a mammoth +6 to cast) or as a pseudo Loremaster on crack with the ability to choose one spell from each of the BRB magic lores, this chap can pump out Kairos-esque magical damage. A full look at the various combinations he could pull off would be a tedious essay in itself. He also carries around a Destroy Scroll (even more powerful now that no one else has them (no, we don’t count the Dwarf, ever)) and the ability to either supercharge a magic phase or ignore one miscast is potentially awesome. In all likihood it is unlikely you will see this ability used much to power up the magic phase over keeping him alive.
All sounds great, but there are some real issues, as well as some logic problems with him. Firstly, his full potential relies on the winds of magic. This is 450pts of wizard monster in an army with little to no ability to get more power dice (things were very different in the age when he could have +2d3 magic dice per turn). The significant logic issue is thus: why does he not carry the Book of Hoeth?! He is the High Loremaster there, he is the biggest daddy of them all, he taught the great-great-great-great-grandaddy of the Supreme Matriarch of Magic how to step it up from card tricks and suddenly appearing doves. He would be excellent with it, it should be his – though I guess game balance is probably thankful he doesn’t!
Overall a good wizard – he is expensive, but not overly so in the world of lvl4 special character wizards. Not necessarily clearly better than a simple Archmage with the Book, but no one would be shocked to see him.
A Good Choice
Eltharion the Grimm
The Warden of Tor Yvresse suffers the most from GW setting the clock back on the background – if only because the model (and fluff!) of Blind Eltharion was exceptional. As it is though, I love him still (a personal thing perhaps). 490 points of Griffon-riding general is a big investment, and that is something to consider. For that you have a Prince with improved WS, a s6 ignore armour save sword, 3+ armour, 5+ ward (that the Griffon gets as well!), 4++ against magic and a level 2 wizard with one of the lores from the BRB. And his Griffon is ASF with I7.
Nothing to sneeze at.
Of course, easy to write him off in the Dark Age of the Cannon… but you don’t always face them, and he can really do a job. Is worth not having an Archmage with the Book/ a safer General… probably not L
But he hits Grom the Paunch on 2s. So there.
A Fluff/Good Choice [Great if you are Manhammering (yes, it’s a verb)]
The Shadow King (or Batman to his friends) is cool. Flat out cool. He scouts, he has a s7 bolt thrower, has swiftstride, a 4++ and is the equivalent of a Chameleon skink to shoot at when in Shadow Warriors (though, admittedly, he handles a fireball better than they do). He once danced with Morathi – which apparently is a big deal in Elven circles.
In the age of the High Elf gunline he is simply exceptional. Sure, he doesn’t fight combat all that well, but the number of characters that actually do are severely limited. The internet being what it is, it probably things he is rubbish. They are probably Spiderman fans.
The beauty here is that he is also cheap enough to fit in the lvl4 with the Book that everyone wants, needs, and feels naked without.
Epic in a themed list, great in almost any other HE list. I am sticking my neck out and saying it here – he is the best special character in the book, because I get to make sweeping statements like that.
A Good Choice
The Everqueen makes a welcome return in this book. A lvl4 wizard (able to not stick to just one lore), Tyrion’s girlfriend has a host of abilities that make her excellent against naughty armies. As well as justifying a cool, though musician-lacking, unit in the book, she can make a flat out infantry star if you put your mind to it, mostly due to her ability to give the unit she is in a 5++ against non-magical damage. Combine this in a unit with the Banner of the World Dragon. Stir to taste. I probably don’t need to draw the picture do I? Oh, ok: Alarielle in a big unit of White Lions with the Banner. If she gets 2 spells off they have a 3++ against non-magical damage and a 2++ against magical fun.
Not fun for anyone involved. Being able to cast a spell twice is good fun, and, on occasion, brutal.
An interesting, and I believe somewhat unique further bonus that Alarielle brings the granting of access to two magic items – The Horn of Isha and the Banner of Avelorn. At 50pts the Horn is at most “OK”, but some fun could be had with the Banner. For 40pts only (though it needs to be carried by the BSB) the unit with the banner grants an additional +4 to cast on any Light and Life spells targeting the unit. This (somewhat obviously) makes buffs incredibly hard to stop, and is definitely worth exploring.
Once again, the brevity of what I have to say does not reflect how good she is in the right sort of list.
A Good Choice
The Captain of the Phoenix Guard is taken for one reason only – access to another Frostheart Phoenix. Other than having a flaming d3 wound halberd and the standard Phoenix Guard stuff, there is not much to say about the formerly naughty, now silent and broody, Caradryan. His version of a Tomb King’s curse is not all that, but he does gets serious kudos points for allowing you to field 4 Frosthearts (or 3 and a normal Lord allowance). As such he is good, if unspectacular. He is, however, a potent spice in a ManHammer stew.
A Fluff Choice [Rising to potentially Good is riding a Phoenix]
The Captain of the White Lions suffers from being a combat hero. These chaps are rarely worth their points if they are not from the Warriors of Chaos, Vampire Counts or Lizardmen books. Sure, he gets 4s6 killing blow attacks. Ok, but he is an elf with minimal armour for 150pts. What he does do though, is provide Stubborn. In a unit other than White Lions he at least hands out some stubborn. His points are basically spot on, though he guess access to the equivalent of 75 points of magic items before you factor in the extra attack. Just so so very uninspiring. He probably plays the harp in his spare time.
A Fluff Choice
Daemons of Chaos
200 points is quite expensive really for a model with a 3+ armour save, 5+ ward and 2 wounds at T4. He looks scary in a challenge, but in practice 4A with no rerolls isn't enough to make the killing blow/heroic killing blow stick, even as a threat really; and flaming rather neuters the effect against a lot of characters. Skulltaker won't help you much for his cost against non-challenging foes, either. While normal Khorne heralds are overcosted too, sadly, I have to say pass.
Karanak coming on behind you is certainly a scary experience. That said, once you add the likely attendant unit of Hounds (who don't hit that hard, sadly, even with Frenzy) he costs for it. I'd rather take another unit of Hounds and threaten two places.
Skarbrand is not cheap - you can't quite use him in a 2400 point game. Both sides getting Hatred can be very nice for a Khorne army - you are I4 and likely hit at the same time or before most opponents, other than a few who probably get rerolls or don't have that high an attack volume anyway. He is quite hard ish himself, though with the right gifts a normal and far cheaper Bloodthirster would do almost the same other than the S5 breath weapon, which I will admit is rather nice - and they fly, too. This said Skarbrand is undoubtedly the best of the Khorne special characters and I can see a smash list with him and large units doing solidly. From a tournament perspective, most UK events play at 2400 which rules him out.
An interesting one here. Cheap enough to use as a flying redirector in time of need, or as a throwaway warmachine hunter. Against a magic-heavy opponent can give you a useful few extra channels. The Scrolls of Sorcery however strike me as quite solid - even if they aren't useful all the time, a roll on eg Light in a key combat turn could have the potential to really swing a game. The main reason I wouldn't expect to see these everywhere is wanting to spend the points on even better stuff in a points-tight list to be honest, and even then a viable alternative to a Fury unit.
Quite costly for a Level 1 on Tzeentch really, where you'd usually go Lv2 if taking Tzeentch or more often just take Metal. Some interesting potential for preventing flying characters from troubling your backfield, but even with the stat boosts I doubt the Changeling really scares well equipped foes enough to matter.
Now we're talking. Kairos is an interesting one - enormous amounts of potential power, at a cost to other key areas of the list and significant vulnerability. At I1, Kairos is hugely threatened by Pit of Shades and Purple Sun. Even with a 4+ ward and one reroll per turn, cannons are still a worry. Getting into combat will spell Kairos' doom. You're spending a lot of points, comparable to a tooled Greater Daemon, and unlike those you don't get the combat canopener the Daemon book desperately needs, as it struggles heavily with armour.
That said, the spell selection is unparallelled and something you won't get elsewhere in the list. I tend to lean toward one head taking advantage of lots of cheap combat buffs to spam (typically the likes of Speed of Light, Flesh to Stone, Plague of Rust, Enchanted Blades of Aiban; though Timewarp is also tempting, as is Comet). The other head takes Doom+Darkness so you have that and Treason for scary leadership bomb action, then a selection to taste - I'd get Pit of Shades in personally. This gives you an incredibly flexible caster; just think what some of those buffs will do to Beasts of Nurgle or Plague Drones, and combined with Skull Cannon fire the Daemon list can be incredibly effective at range in a way it just can't do without Kairos powering it. Possibly at its most effective under simple line of sight, as you can hide Kairos and buff your killing elements.
The strongest special character in the book and one of the stronger overall, but let down a bit by being Monstrous Cav and hence hard to keep Look Out Sir protected. Epidemus is a bit win-more, but once the Tally starts rolling it really is very difficult indeed to lose; and you can really rely on a couple of bits of combat early buffing your force to the level where it can roll over just about any combat army in the game. Helps Beasts and Drones fight against armour, too.
Downsides being aforementioned vulnerability (I expect to see him often hidden at the back out of Cannon line of fire and Death magic range) and requiring a near pure Nurgle build to work, which often feels short on points.
Ku'gath has a theoretically very scary asset - a Strength 5 stone thrower that ignores armour saves, and that he can move and fire. That is tied to a very hard to kill Great Unclean One chassis, with an extra Wound and Attack to boot. What you lose, though, is the Gifts that make the Unclean One a combat monster, and the Level 4 that a scroll-free army kind of needs. Death magic is a big loss, too. As such I don't see ku'gath as a competitive choice per se, but that nurgling thrower is going to ruin someone's day in at least one game someday.
Oh, for the glory days. That said, despite getting a lot of stick, the Masque isn't quite as bad as she might look - very fragile but the army is full of targets and she does have that 3+ ward to discourage fire. -1 Strength for your combat phase can really help change a game, but overall, I think she's sadly a pass.
Warriors of Chaos
Archaon, the Everchosen, the Lord of the End Times
Archaon is supposed to be pretty hardcore really, what with the whole Everchosen deal. He's certainly an effective general - an 18" Ld10 Inspiring Presence and a break test reroll within 12" is pretty good. That makes him pair nicely with Trolls - able to operate a bit further from them and less likely to die leaving them stupid. After all, he does have a 3+ ward save and is only wounded on a 3+ at best; and 4W.
The Slayer of Kings in theory gives him quite a lot of hitting power - 10A at WS9 S5 ignoring armour saves, even if he is also going to accidentally connect with his own testicles once in a while (that's got to hurt, that sword is spiky). All 4 Marks is pretty good. So is having magic level 2 tacked on, though you'll want to watch out for miscasts. Still, Ld10 spirit leech.
Then we get to the problem - mounted, he is well over 600 points. Even unmounted he is nearly that many (and when are you ever taking him on foot?) So for tournament play in the UK, he is out already. Even for larger games, that's a *lot*. You can get two decent Daemon Princes for that. Or one tooled up one and some support. The Prince is Unbreakable, too, which Archaon lamentably isn't. A disc lord with stubborn, a 3+ ward and a great weapon is a lot cheaper, and Ld9 with a 12" bubble is fine in Warriors where most stuff is Slaanesh or Khorne marked anyway, other than the aforementioned trolls. Swords of Chaos look nice, but who takes Chaos Knights these days?
OK, he's pretty scary. I'll give him that. He also costs to match it, and just doesn't do enough for your army to justify that points outlay.
I'll call it a fluff choice but only because he can't be taken in the game sizes most people play. He'd edge into Fluff/Good choice otherwise as he really is nasty.
Pretty cool, and unlike Archaon you can actually take him in a 2400 game, at just over 500. Definitely a nice army centrepiece and a very interesting bit of background. And hey, he's a dragon, dragons are cool, and win you manhammer points.
The best comparison is actually to my mind a Lord of Change though, with a very similar statline. Galrauch has 1W more, but only a 6+ ward (though a 3+ armour). Level 4 Tzeentch is rather good, and the Breath of Change is frankly terrifying (note to editor: do you take one T test or 2d6 if he breathes on a single model in close combat?). The two play similarly - mixture of monstrous combat threat and mobile wizard, both raining down fire and threatening charges against hard targets or in support of the rest of the army.
Problem with both of them is that limited ward save not being enough to stop cannon fire and Banishment, but you do see the Lord of Change, so you'll probably see Galrauch. Both armies have decent cannon catchers to hide behind - here Trolls and Daemonic Mount characters, and at a pinch spare Skullcrushers. OK, he can't take the Eternal Blade. I think 3+ armour and the Breath of Change probably makes up for it. The Ld test thing is pretty crap, tbh, so you'll need a disc BSB to keep near him.
Perhaps the biggest issue is again that he competes with the Daemon Prince, who I hear is pretty good, and won't decide to stop for a Fight Club moment in the middle of a battle. The Prince can be Lv4 Death, which is at least as good as Tzeentch, and is Unbreakable, has WS9, a 5+ ward and typically 1+ armour, and gets cool gifts. No 6W or Breath of Change, mind. And hey, Galrauch has an 18" Inspiring Presence bubble.
The Prince is the safer and almost certainly better choice, but you won't suffer too badly from going Galrauch, and he's certainly got style.
A Good Choice. The problem being the Daemon prince is even better. Stupid bent Daemon Princes.
(Can't touch this...)
Hey, the Warriors like their huge special characters, and Kholek is just begging for an awesome conversion. But is he any good? He certainly hits very hard, what with those 7S8 attacks with multiple wounds D3 and WS8, so will chew up monstrous cav like they aren't even there. And hey, he shoots lightning out his fingers too - Kholek is who Emperor Palpatine wanted to be.
Of course, even with 8 wounds, he is also a circa 550pts model with Initiative 1 and who prevents you from taking a Lv4 caster to stop those Purple Suns. And hey, 8W won't stop cannon fire forever. But the army is full of targets, and not like the Daemon Prince doesn't die to cannons either. At least he survives Banishment a bit better. Still, take the Prince (oh how different this would be if the Prince wasn't so bent).
A fluff choice, but that's partly due to the stupid meta warping Prince. Also Purple Sun. Which is more bent, kids?
Sigvald the Magnificent
Sigvald is on foot. That's not a status much in favour in the current Warriors of Chaos army. OK, so Trolls get a free pass, and a Sorceror in a Marauder bunker is grudgingly allowed. Alright, alright, the mounts are on their feet, and so are gorebeasts, and so are some Daemon Princes. I meant Infantry. So sue me.
He puts out a lot of ASF firepower against light troops, and is at least reasonably tough, but you can get a lot better things for that nearly 400 points, even if he is Stubborn. You could probably build around him and a Stubborn unit that he keeps in the game, but really, it'd not be as good as the smash army.
A Fluff Choice
Valkia the Bloody
OK, Valkia is a slightly better kind of Infantry, in that she can fly. She has some pretty cool gear too - minus one Strength and Attacks to any enemy model in base to base with her is rather nice, and a S7 killing blow armour piercing spear on the charge is nothing to sneeze at. The Gaze of Khorne is a lovely fluffy rule.
Again, though, 400ish points for a model protected only by a 2+ armour save and T5. A pity really.
A Fluff Choice
Vilitch the Curseling
Basically a Loremaster of Tzeentch with S5, for over 100pts more than a usual Sorceror Lord on foot and with no protection. The Vessel of Chaos rule is nice, but is it that nice? I don't think so. Does make your opponent nervous on 50:50 dispel rolls though! I can see Vilitch being used, I suppose, but too costly for no arcane slot or protection really.
A Fluff Choice
Wulfrik the Wanderer
Wulfrik is really interesting. Marauders aren't exactly a popular choice right now, but Ambush gives them some very interesting potential; and Wulfrik's ability to choose challenges lets him and his Marauders really threaten a backfield. I mean, he costs a decent bit, Marauders are too expensive for what they do and he has no real protection, but Wulfrik coming on behind can mess up and change an opponent's entire plan to deal with him. I sort of see him a bit like Flesh Hounds with Ambush really - maybe not optimal, but if your opponent has them you start sweating.
A Fluff/Good Choice
Throgg, King of Trolls
Throgg has always been popular for fluff reasons. Now, he's actually good too.
The metagame is favourable to Trolls, and Throgg really enhances them, with that 18" leadership bubble making them a lot more reliable. (Unlike the typical Daemon Prince, he is less prone to dying to a cannon and leaving them Stupid, too). Hero choice only ups the potential, and then you realise Throgg is both cheap, and really really hard. S5 ignore armour saves breath weapon? S8 with a great weapon and 5A? 4W at T5 with 4+ regen, and Look Out Sir from already hard to remove Trolls? Those Trolls now count as Core as well?
Why wouldn't you.
A Good Choice
Festus the Leechlord
Festus boosts Infantry, and you don't see much of that in a Warriors army. That said, if you're going to take such, giving Nurgle Warriors with Halberds 5+ regenerate as well is quite nice. Still, even with the potions and regeneration, Festus isn't exactly hard to kill, and he has to challenge.
A Fluff Choice, but almost into fluff/good.
Why, GW, why? Why did you make him Ld10 and then not give him a rule exempting him from being your General? [Editor’s note – because rambling Khornate Chaos Spawn are clearly brilliant strategic thinkers and great motivators and leaders of men, obviously] That's your General down and a near-free 200VP for your opponent.
(Also, why him? Everything defaults to male at GW unless there's a special reason for being female. Even lizardmen characters, who come out of spawning pools and I'm fairly sure are absent genitals or gender identity, are "he". Why did the mutant gender-irrelevant spawn need to be "he"? GW needs to hire some feminists. End rant.)
A Fluff Choice
Orcs and Goblins
A beautiful mean green (well, black I guess), killing machine, Grimgor really only does one thing. He does it pretty well admittedly, but multitasking really isn’t his thing. Unlike a lot of other armies, being infantry is not a problem for am Orc, more a state of being. Given this condition of infantry-ness, he is incredibly survivable, and pumps out some high Strength attacks to boot. As a nice little boost, he is just about cheap enough that you can fit in a Orc Great Shamen in the list at the same time, so no need to cry Mr internet. He does have a massive caveat though…
He is one of the 3 special characters in this book that require the taking of another unit – in this case Black Orcs. Now, these Black Orcs are pretty good – WS5 with Hatred means a hell of a lot of punishment coming from a big unit. The slight problem here is that no one takes Black Orcs… they simply don’t do what Savage Orcs do, and they are not Trolls.
All this means you are probably investing some 800 points on Grimgor – which means that, even if you don’t want to, you are building your army around them. If you embrace that you could probably get a nice list together, so it is not the end of the world.
A Fluff/Good Choice
Azhag the Slaughterer
A fantastic model
A Lord on a Monster
Rerolling nearby failed animosity tests
He is and has all of these things. What’s not to like?! Seriously, Azhag has it all.
OK, I am biased here. I love this guy (“guy”, as has been pointed out, being a loose term for a spore-bread Orc). Of course, in the land of the cannon, Monster-riding generals are most definitely not King. Putting all that aside though, Death is a very interesting option for O&G, and opens up a lot of options, though admittedly I would probably rather have their own lore… All in all, he is still a >500 pt model on a Wyvern. As much as I find the model beautiful, and as much as I love the idea that Nagash is whispering in his ear, he is an epic liability, and thus…
A Fluff Choice
The greatest, meanest, badest, coolest of them all – leader of the Greatest Waaagh of them all, and now sadly dead. For a dead Orc he is pretty cool.
Projecting an 18” leadership 10 and bsb bubble is awesome (if feels less awesome in the land of the Standard of Discipline, but it is awesome). Add to that that he lets you have loads of Big ‘Uns and has a juicy magic weapon, and you have to ask yourself, what else does he need? Well, he may not need it, but he has a large farting boar.
You could make a very cool list with this chap – between the animosity modifier he supplies and the fact you probably need some boar boyz to hide in, he encourages aggressive builds, as opposed to the current “green Dwarf” builds. The access to Big ‘Uns could open up some interesting combos. Out of all this loveliness though, comes reality crashing in like a neighbour’s noise complain at a house party.
The reason the current builds are Savages + Trolls + Warmachines + Chaff is that Orc boyz don’t fight well at all. Just try to take on a Wall of Nurgle Daemon list with an Orc heavy combat list to see how depressing that is. The fact that killing Gorbad means losing your General AND your Battle Standard Bearer makes this puppy a 500+ point target.
I want to say he is good, if for no other reason than he has an officially farting boar… but can’t quite do it.
A Fluff Choice
Da Great Green Profit is one mean spell-slinging beast. Rocking out with 6 spells – including the game-changing Wurrzag’s Revenge (seriously, Daemon Princes MUST be turned to squigs. ALL of them! (Vampire Lords too if there are no Daemon Princes around)). Add in the normal access to Hand and Foot, rerolls on miscasts, dice storage, an inbuilt 2++ vs magic and you are having a slice of cake and eating it (not quite sure what else you would do with cake, but still). He is even cheap enough that you can get in a fighty lord if you want.
Add to all this, he slots into the O&G netlist seamlessly. The only downside really is that he costs more than a normal Savage Orc Great Shamen without offering all that much more in the traditional gunline list – and most notably, you will need someone else to hold the Shrunken Head, and another to keep hold of the scroll. But that is all nonsense, and he even provides the MR you normally see in the unit. Above and beyond anything else, he TURNS ENEMY WIZARDS INTO SQUIGS. Nothing else really matters all that much.
A Good/Fluff Choice
Grom the Paunch of Misty Mountain
Everyone loves the fat regenerating goblin who somehow found his way to Ulthuan. Except Eltharion – that elf holds a serious grudge.
Unfortunately, putting the fluff aside, what you have a is a Goblin Warboss just under 300 points who is, well… a Goblin. Sure, with Regeneration, a chariot and Killing Blow, but at the end of the day… a Goblin. With no look-out-sir. There really isn’t much to say here
A Fluff Choice
Probably the coolest joker in this pack, the Warlord of the Eight Peaks is so enduringly popular that he even has his own novel (not that I have got past a rather endless description of him as a Night Goblin teenager farming fungus). The whole story of Karak Eight Peaks and the three way war between Dwarfs, Night Goblins and Skaven is one of the best settings in Warhammer, and Skarsnik’s model does not let him down either.
In game terms, having 6 wounds and some high strength attacks is always good. Making Night Goblins the equivalent of fast Cavalry with their flee-rally-move could really open up some interesting tactical options, and really makes me want to try it out. 1/6th of your opponent’s army having to walk onto the board first turn is also potentially huge – depending on the unit of course – be it buying more time for your warmachines to cause havoc, keep magic defence off the board, or whatever. Obviously nothing you can plan on, but still, great fun. He even has a bound spell for the hell of it.
Most often (if ever) seen in all-Night Goblin/Goblin lists (where he brings ld8 to the table), the beauty of Skarsnik is that he is cheap enough to fit into a normal list. Unfortunately though, despite his rules, background and model being cool, he just doesn’t justify the points cost.
A Fluff Choice [Good Choice in all-Goblin lists]
If you like Spider Riders you probably like the idea of ambushing, devastating charging Spider Riders. If not… you probably don’t. It really is rather simple like that. Snagla is cheap enough that if you run Spider Riders anyway he is not too much of a points sink… and you never know… he *could* break the game… maybe…
Overall, a nice little touch that I hoped would spark a spate of cheap heroes that let their units to do unusual things in the following books. Unfortunately not.
A Fluff Choice
Gitilla da Hunter
Gitilla da Hunter… seriously, that’s his real name. Ahem. Right.
Well this little guy is cool enough I guess – at the very least wolf riding chiefs are pretty common in existing O&G lists, so it’s not a case of adding a square peg in a skull’s eye socket (this is Warhammer, there are always skulls).
Gitilla is a deceptive points sink though – wolf riders (units and Chief) are cool because they are cheap. Gitilla having to be in the unit is a pain, frankly, and changes the way they can be used. In decent numbers this could be a decent enough firebase with their BS 4 and Quick to Fire… well, as decent a firebase as s3 short bows can really be… Let’s go with “mobile” firebase instead.
This unit’s other special rule could be pretty cool is played around – getting to reroll pursuit and flee moves is great – too many times have swiftstride units failed to catch their pray. Tagged on the corner of the combat they could be invaluable. Obviously highly situational. Unfortunately, no amount of pun-age in the name saves this unit from being something never used.
A Fluff Choice