28 Oct 2014

Lizardmen - Unit Overview - Special

Hello there everyone, I am Learn2Eel from Imperator Guides and I welcome you to my latest Unit Overview series reviewing the ancient guardians of Lustria, the Lizardmen (and Lizardwomen?). This is an army with a lot of variety in play-styles, whether by relying on driving enemies back through masses of hardened Saurus, crushing them under the scales of titanic Stegadons or ambushing them with a thousand poisoned darts from a writhing swarm of Skinks. Even if you are a mighty Oldblood far removed from the mute inexperience of a new spawnling, I hope there is still something useful for you here in this series. Enjoy!


Temple Guard - If you want a rock solid and hard hitting infantry block from the Lizardmen book that is dependable and reliable in almost any situation, Temple Guard are definitely what you want and need. Not only are they easily more points-efficient than Saurus Warriors but they also serve as the best bodyguards by far for the expensive Slaan Mage Priests, even if the latter can prove calamitous for the former given the risks of miscasts and the attention they draw. Their improved profile over Saurus Warriors features Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 2 on the stat front, meaning they strike simultaneously with Dwarfs and will importantly only be hitting on 5s against Weapon Skill 9 opponents (unless you count actual modifiers like the Mark of Nurgle) while needing 3s against weaker units. They also get the best equipment out of the two units by receiving light armour for a standard 4+ armour save, shields for a 3+ armour save against shooting, and halberds for Strength 5 attacks across the whole unit. Not only is this a very durable unit against both shooting and close combat attacks with their good Toughness 4, but they also bring the pain with two Strength 5 attacks each that can benefit from Predatory Fighter on the front rank. While Predatory Fighter will usually only result in a few extra hits, that they are resolved at Strength 5 and can be easily combined with the Razor Standard makes Temple Guard a combat block to be respected - or feared - by your opponent.

While you probably won't bother with the magic weapon upgrade on a Temple Guard champion, having access to magical standards is a very nice addition over Saurus Warriors that allows you to further specialize or improve the unit. The aforementioned Razor Standard is very useful as it allows the Temple Guard to effectively engage well armoured units and at least force a stale-mate, while the Banner of Eternal Flame allows them to go head-to-head with Trolls or other Regenerating units and emerge victorious. Their unique relationship with Slaan Mage Priests affords them an important place in a standard Lizardmen list even if it is only to have a well protected Level 4 Wizard bunker. When combined with the Lore of Light or any of the other "buff" oriented spell lores from the Slaan, Temple Guard can quickly become one of the hardiest anvils in the game that still possesses a nasty melee presence. They are a solid combat unit on their own and compare reasonably well to elite melee units such as Chaos Warriors or Dark Elf Black Guard, but you will find that without augment spells their low Initiative and lack of ward saves will be exploited by things like Nurgle Daemons, Hellcannons, Frostheart Phoenixes and test-or-die spells such as the Pit of Shades or Purple Sun of Xereus. Initiative 2 is still terrible against spells that force Initiative tests and for fighting similarly hard hitting enemy units like Chaos Warriors with halberds of their own, or even White Lions of Chrace with their Strength 6 Initiative 5 attacks that fight in an extra rank due to Martial Prowess. However, I still rate Temple Guard as they combine the survivability and raw hitting power of Chaos Warriors at a low price, suffering from lower Weapon Skill and Initiative to balance this out but also making for a far hardier combat block because they are Leadership 8 with Cold-Blooded and can easily benefit from Stubborn.
Competitive? Yes.

Jungle Swarms - Swarm type units are always interesting if only because they are so far removed from the rest of the options an army list offers, not really classifying as a true tarpit considering they are Unstable and bleed combat resolution, but being a decently cheap Skirmisher unit that is too small to really provide soft cover or hard cover bonuses to friendly units. The idea is to use these as charge re-directors and blockers which they do well enough, though they don't offer the same mobility as War Beast or Cavalry type units do. While I tend not to rate most swarm type units as generally speaking each army book they feature in has better chaff units at a more reasonable price point, Jungle Swarms are interesting if only because of the very decent combat buff they provide to friendly units in a melee. Compared to Skaven Rat-Swarms, for example, Jungle Swarms have a much lower Initiative value of one and are slightly slower to boot, but each of their own five attacks are Poisoned and they also provide any friendly unit fighting an enemy unit the Jungle Swarm itself is in base contact with the Poisoned Attacks special rule. This means they are best suited to flank or rear charges in conjunction with a frontal charge from one of your primary combat blocks or monsters, giving them a very decent upgrade in the form of "free" Poisoned Attacks. This is amusing when used with Saurus-type warriors that possess the Predatory Fighter special rule; each 6 rolled to hit from the front rank will not only automatically wound but also provide an additional attack resolved immediately. When you consider the buffs to Predatory Fighter and the natural synergy Lizardmen units have with the Lore of Light, it isn't difficult to see how much of the army revolves around supporting your Saurus regiments by improving their generally decent or mediocre combat capabilities.

Sadly, I do struggle to see how a Jungle Swarm can really be more useful than the equivalent points in Skink Skirmishers or Chameleon Skinks. This is because Movement 5 on a Swarm does mean they can keep up with Saurus and Skink units for the most part, but the fact that they are so insanely fragile even with the -1 penalty applied because of their Skirmisher classification means you need quite a bit of luck for them to reach a combat, let alone guarantee they are part of a combo-charge. Once in combat, the pathetic Initiative values of almost all Lizardmen units means that opponents can simply direct their attacks at the Weapon Skill 2, Toughness 2 Jungle Swarms and kill them outright before your friendly units can benefit from the Poisoned Attacks buff. Even with five wounds each, keeping these alive is not easy and especially so if they charge in the front; remember that these are not Fast Cavalry and thus will have trouble setting up a flank charge. If you want to ensure you get the Poisoned buff, you need to take at least two Jungle Swarms so that you have a good chance of applying their unique special rule, but by doing so they cost just as much as five Chameleon Skinks or ten Skink Skirmishers - or even just ten points shy of a Salamander! All of those units are far more useful generally than the Jungle Swarms, and that doesn't even account for the inherently random nature of Poisoned Attacks; if we assume maximum benefits by applying their handy benefit to a six-wide block of Temple Guard with multiple ranks, the averages dictate that only three Poisons will occur from their eighteen or nineteen attacks. It doesn't help that Lizardmen combat blocks tend to be mediocre outside of a heavily beneficial magic phase and Jungle Swarms aren't guaranteed to stop war machine crews in their tracks. Still, while this is a unit that tends to fail in practice on their own merits for the many reasons listed above, they are still very cheap for what they do and can fulfill some important roles in the army. Just because those other aforementioned Skink affiliated units are almost always more competitive doesn't mean the Jungle Swarms themselves are necessarily bad, just that they aren't as valuable for most lists.
Competitive? No. 

Chameleon Skinks - Billed as the "elite" Skink Skirmisher equivalent, Chameleon Skinks are far more of a specialist choice that are easily the best unit in the army book for hunting war machines, lone characters and other vulnerable backfield options employed by your enemies. They function much the same as Skink Skirmishers with blowpipes; they are terrible in combat but are Movement 6 Skirmishers that fire two Poisoned shots at 12" per model to compensate. Where Chameleon Skinks are improved is that enemies shooting at them not only suffer a -1 to hit penalty because the Skinks are Skirmishers, but they also suffer a second -1 to hit penalty because of their Chameleon special rule. This means that even Elf archers will be hitting the Chameleon Skinks on 5s at best (assuming they are Ballistic Skill 4) while any kind of soft cover or hard cover bonuses will see almost any ranged unit needing 6s and 4s (effectively '7s') to hit the Chameleon Skinks. For a chaff unit that is purpose built for ranged avoidance this is definitely a very nice defence to have, making up mostly for their pathetic Toughness 2 and 6+ armour save.

The real reason you want these over Skink Skirmishers is that they have the insanely useful Scout special rule, allowing them to deploy anywhere on the battlefield so long as that spot is 12" or more away from enemy units. Combine that with their two Poisoned shots each at Ballistic Skill 4 rather than Ballistic Skill 3, their high Movement 6 and Skirmisher profile allowing them to fire when marching, Chameleon Skinks are far and away the primary answer to war machines for a Lizardmen army. Ten of these are priced similarly to most Dwarf and Empire war machines and will statistically kill a typical three-wound war machine in one round of shooting regardless of most typical to-hit modifiers. Not only do they make their points back in one shooting phase, but they have the speed and capability to harass and seriously pester your opponents' forces thereafter, hunting any other valuable but fragile (to Poison) targets they can find with their high Movement 6. If you deploy them correctly and your opponent has little good shooting that can deal with the permanent -2 to hit modifier applied before soft or hard cover, long range and movement penalties are even applied, they will be very difficult to deal with outside of investing damage spells or melee units to their destruction. Their high cost compared to regular Skink Skirmishers does limit them somewhat but I feel the Scout redeployment is easily worth the price of admission, as Lizardmen otherwise can struggle immensely with gunlines featuring numerous war machines.
Competitive? Yes.

Cold One Riders - While many commonly refer to these as mounted Saurus Warriors, the closer analogy would be to Temple Guard given that Cold One Riders share the exact same stats as the latter unit; the hallmark Strength and Toughness 4 remain with two attacks each, though they are Weapon Skill 4 and Initiative 2 to fit their elite billing. Cold One Riders are among the few heavy cavalry choices in the game that can actually cut through ranked units semi-reliably as each individual model packs in a very impressive four Strength 4 attacks before upgrades, two of which are at Weapon Skill 4 and the other two are at Weapon Skill 3. Toughness 4 with a 2+ armour save makes them only slightly less survivable than the infamous Chaos Knights, while their weaker profile compared to the scions of Chaos justifies a significant ten-point reduction in cost per model compared to the Warriors of Chaos' Special choice. Predatory Fighter and Fear give them some slightly improved melee potential beyond their actual profiles, while they are permanently Immune to Psychology because of the Cold Ones' Stupidity. While having Stupidity would generally be seen as a massive downside for any unit not just for the potentially uncontrollable movement but also the inability to choose the flee charge reaction, that Cold One Riders are Leadership 8 with Cold-Blooded means they are incredibly unlikely to fail a Stupidity test - even more so than Dark Elf Cold One Knights. Being Immune to Psychology does also provide the trade-off of being immune to Terror and Panic tests at the very least, while causing Fear gives the Cold One Riders a nice if situational close combat advantage against lesser foes.

They are certainly a decent unit in that sense, but one must remember that Cold One Riders come stock only with hand weapons rather than the lances or other similar special melee weapons employed by their heavy cavalry competitors throughout Warhammer Fantasy. Four Strength 4 attacks with no access to a magical standard means that Cold One Riders are good only for killing very lightly armoured units - make no mistake, they chew through infantry very efficiently - but will struggle immensely once faced with other heavily armoured cavalry or, their name bearing dread, the many monstrous cavalry options running around in 8th Edition. Their attacks can at best impose a -1 armour save modifier, meaning 1+ or 2+ armoured models will easily hold them up almost indefinitely, especially considering that Cold One Riders have mediocre Weapon Skill and terrible Initiative values. Striking at Initiative 2 means that Cold One Riders will almost always suffer casualties in a combat before they themselves can attack which, considering heavy cavalry units of their kind only really work in a ten or fifteen strong unit at absolute maximum - and such regiments are insanely expensive before adding in mandatory characters - is a huge blow to their damage output. Considering they are Movement 7, enemies such as High Elf Dragon Princes or Brettonian Knights will always have a mobility advantage over them, with the former in particular laughing at their more expensive Lizardmen counter-parts as a pure shock-choice.

The main benefit of the Cold One Cavalry is that a five-wide formation will result in twenty Strength 4 attacks coming from the front rank alone which is more than enough to chew through infantry while using the hardy Toughness 4, 2+ armour saves to survive return attacks. They can't really compete with opposing heavy cavalry - particularly Dark Elf Cold One Knights if they get the charge - and well armoured units in decent to large numbers, and they are priced very oddly compared to many of those other choices. The fact that they can purchase spears but at a ridiculous price per model ensures this is a unit best left as an infantry blender, something that can already be done almost or just as well by the equivalent points in Saurus Warriors. Being mobile, tough and decently hard hitting isn't enough in an edition where heavy cavalry are universally out-shined by monstrous cavalry, where Step Up and Steadfast eliminate the competitive usage of such units outside of character buses, unwieldy death-stars and expensive "chaff". Cold One Riders are at the very least a good chaff clearer with their huge wealth of attacks but their lower mobility compared to most other cavalry options restricts their uses in that regard, while their uses in a character bus are decidedly limited given their high cost. Scar Veterans and Old Bloods mounted on Cold Ones are often better foraging off by themselves where they don't have to spend a ridiculous amount of points on a bodyguard and can instead rely on their own considerable defences. I feel they would be the perfect unit to have if they came stock with the spears or only paid at most a few points per model for them, but when you compare them to their Dark Elf equivalent that comes stock with Always Strikes First, Murderous Prowess, lances and numerous other benefits such as a higher Weapon Skill value, there is just little reason to really consider these in a highly competitive environment. Again, they aren't terrible, but if you want a hard-hitting melee unit with good or decent mobility then Stegadons are in a similar price range and are both far more versatile and generally useful in the hands of a skilled Lizardmen general.
Competitive? No.

Kroxigor - While they make a very unusual and poor appearance in the Core slot via mixed Skink Cohort units, Kroxigor are a surprisingly useful hammer when taken on their own individual merits - who needs Skink padding that arbitrarily increases the cost of the truly valuable part of the regiment, the Kroxigor themselves? Don't ever mistake these as larger Saurus equivalents as that couldn't be further from the truth; where Saurus are a natural anvil with their good survivability and medium cost per model, Kroxigor are very expensive but absolutely hit hard and justify the "tonne of bricks" metaphor. Each Kroxigor has a profile very reminiscent of a standard Ogre, with three Toughness 4 wounds on defence, a middling Weapon Skill 3, a pitiful Initiative 1 and three attacks each at Strength 5. They are Leadership 7 with Cold-Blooded which means they aren't going to be failing Panic or Break tests in a hurry, while having a 4+ Scaly Skin armour save makes them more survivable than most Ogre infantry. Base Strength 5 also contributes to their overall damage output against lighter targets with the Stomp, but the key here is that each Kroxigor natively wields a great weapon. For not much more than an Ogre Irongut, Kroxigor provide three Strength 7 attacks per model at Weapon Skill 3, are tougher to put down and harder to control via Leadership tests and penalties, though as a result they are more expensive and do not provide Impact Hits whatsoever. Predatory Fighter gives Kroxigor a slight boost to the front ranks' damage output but ultimately is too random to really be relied upon to get them out of a bad engagement, while Aquatic is a bit too situational to be considered a truly important aspect of the unit. They actually compare quite well to Ogre Ironguts when you weigh up the various traits of either unit, though obviously that Ironguts are Core whereas Kroxigor are Special has many (including me) giving the nod to the former. In any case, Kroxigor are undoubtedly the hardest hitting dedicated melee unit in the Lizardmen army book with a unit of three providing nine Strength 7 Always Strikes Last attacks and three Strength 5 Stomp attacks that, laughably, also have Always Strikes Last - to humor my sarcasm, isn't it enough that they are Initiative 1?

If you need a monstrous type unit or other heavily armoured force dealt with, a flank charge from three or more Kroxigor should do the trick and do so with aplomb. They will statistically kill a Carnosaur or War Hydra - meaning Toughness 5 and five wounds with a 3+ or worse armour save - equivalent on the charge provided at least three Kroxigor get to strike, while even 1+ armoured monstrous cavalry will have to be extremely careful around these brutish Lizardmen warriors. Unfortunately, there are some pretty hefty issues to remember here; being Initiative 1 means that not only will Pit of Shades and other such spells annihilate them in an instant, but they also cannot afford to perform a frontal charge against other dedicated melee units that have the tools to easily deal with nine or more Toughness 4, 4+ armoured wounds. With the width of the Kroxigor equaling that of six infantry models on the standard 20mm base which means maximising will allow eight such models from the front rank alone to attack the Kroxigor, a sizable unit of anything from White Lions to Chaos Warriors will scythe through Kroxigor with incredible ease. As an example, a six-wide and five-deep formation of White Lions (the equivalent in points of six Kroxigor) will on average kill three Kroxigor per round of combat when we account for Martial Prowess, hitting on 3s and wounding on 2s with no save allowed for the Kroxigor (Strength 6). Even though the Kroxigor should average out to around seven or eight kills in return, the White Lions - and other infantry units by extension - have the rank bonuses and numbers to bog down the Kroxigor, if not kill them outright in the next round of combat (which is what will happen in the case of the White Lions). The equation is similarly weighted against the Kroxigor when you consider fifteen Chaos Warriors of Nurgle armed with halberds, deployed six-wide and three-deep, are less expensive than six Kroxigor but will deal an average of eight unsaved wounds to the Kroxigor, killing two and severely wounding a third. The four remaining Kroxigor need 5s to hit the Chaos Warriors in turn with their 12 attacks, leading to only 4 hits and 4 casualties inflicted for a crushing victory in favour of the Chaos Warriors.

Whereas Ironguts have character support, the fact that they are Core and thus fill up your mandatory points, a lower cost per model and Impact Hits to weigh such combats in their favour or at least justify the loss if it occurs, Kroxigor are a very expensive and elite unit that has no available character models on equivalent base sizes able to join them - at least, not characters that would work alongside Kroxigor. If we assume that you should use at least six Kroxigor in a unit deployed three wide and two deep to make the most of their attacks and ensure at least a few of them reach combat after all shooting and magic is accounted for, that is a triple-century priced unit that has some severe weaknesses and can just as easily be held up by a single Ethereal model (like a Spirit Host) as any of the cheaper Lizardmen monsters. They function as the hunters of anything monstrous or heavily armoured in an army book populated by Stegadons with the Sharpened Horns upgrade that fulfill the same role via Impact Hits rather than their regular close combat attacks. With poor actual stats for hitting and never going before any opponent, Kroxigor are quite limited in terms of what they can actually perform assuming your opponent has the counters available to stop them. As I mentioned earlier, however, they are still at the very least points efficient compared to other similar monstrous infantry units from other army books - Ushabti wish they could mimic the effectiveness of Kroxigor - and the fact that their preferred targets tend to struggle against other monstrous-type units and themselves have low Weapon Skill or Initiative values means Kroxigor are still good in their intended role.

Just be aware that Kroxigor aren't designed to be a full front-line combat unit despite how expensive they are, as they can be easily bogged down or outright slaughtered by the great weapon wielding Elven elites or halberd-armed Chaos Warriors that populate the meta right now. They need to be used on the flank where their good Movement 6 allows them to get flank or even (unlikely) rear charges off, while threatening your opponents war machines and skirmishers or chaff units. When you consider that four of these are the rough equivalent of three Dragon Ogres equipped with great weapons and trade one point of both Movement and Weapon Skill plus a situational ability for another, the Kroxigor get Predatory Fighter and an extra three attacks thrown into the mix which solidifies their crazy hitting power. I rate these as competitive over Dragon Ogres simply because Lizardmen can have issues dealing with well armoured units outside of Oldblood or Scar Veteran "cowboys" and Stegadons, whereas Warriors of Chaos have Hellcannons, Gorebeast Chariots, Chaos Trolls, Chimeras, Chaos Ogres and Chaos Knight with lances all particularly suited to that role. I rate Kroxigor slightly above Dragon Ogres as a unit, but in the context of their own army book I find they are a lot closer to being necessary and thus competitive because of the reduced options for dealing with those heavily armoured enemies. I don't give them a competitive rating lightly, mind, as I do feel the "cowboys" and Stegadons are far more efficient and have such a small footprint to fulfill numerous other roles and find their preferred charge with greater ease. However, the extra attacks and Predatory Fighter at similar points costs to Dragon Ogres I feel gives Kroxigor the edge in that particular comparison, while Lizardmen having far greater access to useful augment spells such as Hand of Glory or Speed of Light as opposed to Warriors of Chaos means you can better support these units throughout the game - I don't feel I need to explain the Lizardmen dominance in a chaff war!
Competitive? Yes.

Terradon Riders - While these have been around long before the new plastic models were released, it nonetheless surprises me just how good a flying monstrous cavalry unit can be even though it isn't intended to fight a melee against anything save for weak chaff units or war machines. Seriously, it is hard to find a monstrous cavalry unit as poor in combat as Terradons; there are a total of two attacks provided by the model, one at Strength 3 with Weapon Skill 2 and the other at Strength 4 with Weapon Skill 3 - the Strength 4 Stomp of course bears mentioning. The Skink rider is Initiative 4 while the Terradon has a lowly Initiative 2, and the unit has a mere two Toughness 3 wounds with a 5+ armour save on defence. Being Skirmishers due to the Flying Cavalry rules affords them some minor extra defence against shooting attacks that roll to hit, while causing Fear and having Forest Strider gives them very slight boosts to their melee prowess while safeguarding them from dangerous terrain in the most common terrain type for Warhammer Fantasy. Each Skink riding a Terradon bears a lustrian javelin meaning they can fire a single shot at Ballistic Skill 3 with the Poisoned and Quick to Fire special rules, making for a decent little shooting attack to complement the 10" normal and 20" march moves of the Terradons.

That they are Leadership 5 with Cold-Blooded means they aren't going to stick around in a fight all that often but ideally these are more of an annoyance unit and shouldn't be considered a pivotal part of your army's success in terms of investment value. Once per game, Terradons can also drop rocks on a unit they move over (I assume this also includes march moves) provided the target unit is unengaged, and the Terradon Riders themselves are not fleeing or declared a charge. This is a nifty little ability as the target unit suffers D3 Strength 4 automatic hits per Terradon that flies over it which gives Lizardmen an awesome way to deal with enemy Skirmishers and Scouts - Wood Elf Waywatchers in particular are deathly afraid of this! With a 20" potential movement and the ability to freely pivot or reform combined with their decent shooting and melee capabilities as well as the Drop Rocks once per game, Terradons are a very valuable unit for any Lizardmen army that packs on the chaff. They function as chaff-destroyers, war machine hunters, character assassins and light harassers at a lower cost overall in average unit size (three of these just barely break the century mark in terms of points) compared to Chameleon Skinks, and their insane mobility means they can be a legitimate threat throughout any stage of the game. Competitive Lizardmen army lists usually feature at least one unit of three Terradon Riders simply because they are yet another fantastic chaff tool - even if used just as a re-director with Swiftstride - to add to the extensive arsenal fielded by the denizens of Lustria.
Competitive? Yes.

Stegadon - Earmarking themselves as the go-to monster for competitive Lizardmen players, Stegadons (including their Ancient siblings) provide the army book with its most cost-efficient monster and also one of the toughest by far. Toughness 6 with 5 wounds and a 4+ armour save is only ever so slightly more durable in a sense than a Carnosaur, but in actual application it means that Strength 4 Chaos Warriors and other common elite choices won't have such an easy time against a Stegadon. It also greatly reduces its vulnerabilities to many spells and war machines such as bolt throwers, though obviously cannonballs and direct hits from stone throwers will still get the job done against a Stegadon regardless of the improved Toughness value. The key term here is value and that is because the Stegadon is priced well as a monster on its own but also comes with five Skinks atop it that cannot be targeted separately to the Stegadon itself, providing the beast with some light ranged presence and a minimal boost to its' melee damage output. Speaking of close combat, a Stegadon might seem unappealing at first but it is easily the superior of a Carnosaur once you consider its overall survivability and damage dealt against a wide range of different targets.

The Toughness 6 helps, but what really sets the Stegadon is the fact that it deals D6+1 Impact Hits at Strength 5 on a turn in which it charges, adding on to its four Strength 5 attacks that are resolved normally at Initiative 2 and Weapon Skill 3. The five Skinks themselves provide an extra five Strength 3 attacks at Initiative 4 and Weapon Skill 2, and once the Strength 5 Thunderstomp is accounted for the Stegadon is easily superior to the Carnosaur when it comes to crushing infantry of all kinds. It is also Stubborn on Leadership 6 that combines well with the Cold-Blooded special rule and should see it pass just over half of the (hopefully few) Leadership tests it is forced to take, a slight improvement over the Skinks that crew the great beast. Immune to Psychology means it will never have to worry about taking Panic tests which no doubt makes the owners of Chimera's look on enviously, while the five lustrian javelins wielded by the Skink crew provide the Stegadon with some decent little shooting capabilities. The bolt thrower is not as much of a gem as many may think it is seeing as it is mounted on a platform that should generally be moving and is crewed by Ballistic Skill 3 models. The bolt thrower has a range of 36" which complements the good Movement 6 of the Stegadon well, with it being reduced to Strength 5 as opposed to most bolt throwers but gaining the Poison special rule to make up for it. When you consider that the Stegadon is very well priced as a monster based on its close combat capabilities alone, the bolt thrower is effectively a nice little extra that can potentially do a lot of damage if you get lucky with your to hit rolls. Moving and firing at long range see the bolt thrower need 6s to hit, but any 6 to hit counts as Poisoned, automatically wounding, ignoring armour saves and inflicting D3 wounds on the model struck - remembering though that subsequent models hit still require a successful to-wound roll in order to be harmed.

Even if you throw it into a list just as the cheap monster that it is, the combination of Impact Hits, shooting, good survivability and immunity to Panic make for a valuable and strong monster option with all the usual traits that unit type brings to the table. If you really want to capitalize on its capabilities as a monster or monstrous cavalry hunter, however, you can also upgrade it to add the Multiple Wounds (D3) special rule to all of its Impact Hits. Resolved at Strength 5 and receiving D6+1 of them, the Impact Hits of Stegadons affected by this appropriately priced upgrade quickly become a very real and dangerous tool against enemy models with more than one wound. If we go off a random roll of three plus the guaranteed one extra, four Strength 5 Impact Hits resolved against an enemy War Hydra will statistically wound twice, allowing only a 6+ armour save. We can assume both are failed, leading to the War Hydra taking at least two wounds; if the average roll of 2D6 is 7 we can guess the two dice rolled are a 3 and a 4 (usually), meaning the War Hydra takes four wounds just from the Stegadon's Impact Hits alone. That is a very dead War Hydra once the Skinks and Stegadon itself attack in close combat! To say I am a big fan of Stegadons would be an understatement, and their small base size compared to something like an Arachnarok Spider means they can easily get around your opponent and get off a nasty flank charge or otherwise target your vulnerable units.
Competitive? Yes.

Bastiladon - If you are looking for a monster that is good in close combat through a mixture of regular attacks and a Thunderstomp as a bare minimum, look elsewhere; for those that want one of the few true "support" monsters in the game, the Bastiladon is the perfect foil for your army list. The profile is about as unimpressive as it gets in terms of melee capabilities with a seemingly unprecedented base Strength 4 on the monster itself with a mere three attacks at Initiative 1 and Weapon Skill 3 to go with it. This means that even the creature's Thunderstomp is middling at best with it requiring a good bit of luck to damage even Elven or similar Toughness 3 units that are typically fodder for such attacks. It also appears to be lacking in terms of survivability as well with four Toughness 5 wounds, though its natural 2+ armour save ensures that it is almost entirely immune to small arms fire with only the usual war machines really threatening it in the shooting phase. On that note, be wary of bolt throwers; with only four wounds and no armour saves allowed from a bolt throwers' standard shot, Bastiladons at Toughness 5 make easy prey for those most inexpensive of war machines. Initiative 1 and Always Strikes Last makes it very susceptible to the spells testing off of Initiative, while almost any opponent will strike before them - it attacks simultaneously with most great weapon wielders and is not built to survive their strikes whatsoever. The four Skink crew (as opposed to a Stegadon's five) are treated very similarly to the crew of a Stegadon, being immune to damage and using their lustrian javelins and single Strength 3 attacks per model to provide a little boost to a Bastiladon's overall damage output.

Cold-Blooded and Leadership 6 are decent enough for sticking around, but a Bastiladon lacks both Stubborn and Immune to Psychology meaning it is very susceptible to breaking from combat or failing a Panic test. It also has an incredibly below average Movement 4 which means it can at best keep up with your Saurus infantry choices, though this solidifies its place as a support choice rather than a potential outlier or aggressive unit option. That it ignores combat resolution bonuses for being charged in the flank or rear, plus treating one of its three attacks as being Strength 10 with a +1 to hit bonus against opponents in its' rear arc are nice extras but ultimately don't change the fact that this is, frankly, a terrible melee monster compared to all of the other options in the book. This is where its support abilities come into play and actually stamp out a nice little niche in the Special slot, making up for its terrible damage potential. With one of two configurations, the Ark of Sotek and the Solar Engine, a Bastiladon can be freely tailored to fit your army list based on what other unit choices you field. The Ark of Sotek provides the Bastiladon with a negligible shooting attack and the ability to add free Jungle Swarms to an already established unit while keeping the Skink crew count at the starting count of four - frankly, you should avoid this option unless you are using Tehenhauin with Jungle Swarms.

The real winner here is the Solar Engine, providing all Cold-Blooded units within 6" a +1 bonus to their Initiative values while also packing a very nasty innate bound spell. That the Initiative buff affects all Cold-Blooded units means that every single choice in the army book gets the benefit, from Carnosaurs to Saurus Warriors, and makes it the perfect support choice to push up alongside a combat-centric Lizardmen army list. The innate bound spell has a tiny power level of three, a nice range of 24" and inflicts a random number of automatic flaming hits based on a separate D6 roll. While rolling a '1' does barely anything, rolling a '2' or higher provides D6 Strength 4 hits at minimum which is perfect for clearing out small chaff units or assassinating lone characters, while the roll of a '4' or greater leads to at least 2D6 Strength 5 hits which can cause some serious damage even to full on combat blocks. While a Bastiladon with an Ark of Sotek is a middling choice at best that only really suits a themed list featuring multiple units of Jungle Swarms, a Bastiladon with a Solar Engine is easily the best support element for combat blocks in a Lizardmen list and also features one of the nastier innate bound spells around. It is very tough for the most part and its melee damage output is still decent by virtue of being a monster, combining to make it a hugely valuable and effective unit - this is a great addition to the Lizardmen army book indeed!
Competitive? Yes.

Ripperdactyl Riders - While Terradons have a clearly defined role in the Lizardmen army book and fulfill it very well, Ripperdactyls are a bit more confused about what exactly they are supposed to provide. To clarify my point, Ripperdactyls are still a great chaff unit by virtue of being flying monstrous cavalry at a low cost per model - packing in the all the benefits of being Flying Cavalry such as the ability to freely reform, Vanguard moves and the Skirmisher classification. They are only very slightly more expensive than Terradon Riders but pack in some very obvious advantages mostly revolving around a seriously improved close combat phase overall. They also feature slightly boosted survivability to boot which pairs up very well with the Skirmisher special rule by applying a -1 to hit penalty for ranged attacks directed against them. The Skink rider is mostly identical to that on a Terradon in terms of stats, though the hand weapon and lustrian javelin of a Terradon Rider is swapped for both a spear and a shield. This means a Ripperdactyl Rider has a combined armour save of 4+ which is quite nice for a Toughness 3, 2 Wound model, while the Skink itself provides a single Strength 4 attack on the charge resolved at Initiative 4, albeit still with that pitiful Weapon Skill 2.

The Ripperdactyl itself has three attacks once its Frenzy is accounted for, and each of these is Strength 4 with both the Armour Piercing and Killing Blow special rules. Weapon Skill 3 and Initiative 3 make them middling fighters but the threat of Killing Blow and a standard -2 armour save modifier from its three attacks make it a really nasty monstrous mount option - overall, a single Ripperdactyl Rider definitely provides some impressive damage output considering their low cost per model as a monstrous cavalry unit. That they are a flying unit with Vanguard, two Toughness 3 wounds with a 4+ armour save each and have an extra Strength 4 attack on the charge from the Skink rider make for a very impressive and efficient melee unit. There's just one potentially significant issue here, and that is Frenzy on a Cold-Blooded model with Leadership 5; this is a unit that will fail quite a few Frenzy tests, and as good as the damage output for Ripperdactyls' is they simply cannot engage actual dedicated melee units on their own, at least not in a frontal charge. Their mediocre Weapon Skill and Initiative means that Elven and Chaos' basic Core units will strike before them and hit on 3s, wounding on 4s at the very least with the potential to force a lot of armour saves. If you consider that two Chaos Warriors of Nurgle armed with halberds are ever so slightly cheaper than a single Ripperdactyl, those two Chaos Warriors will average three hits, three wounds of which at least two are unsaved leading to a dead Ripperdactyl. Ranked units have the numbers to bog down and exploit the fragility of the Ripperdactyl Riders, while the low Initiative of the unit means charging an enemy heavy cavalry or equivalent unit can often be a bad idea even if those units don't get to use their lances or equivalent weapons in the first round of combat.

Ripperdactyls' excel against Initiative 3 or lower cavalry units of the non-monstrous variety, while elite units with low Initiative values make for easy prey unless they are taken in sizable numbers. Ripperdactyls are a dedicated melee unit and definitely have the damage output to provide that against non-monstrous units, but they are fragile enough not to really endure against other proper combat units - Chaos Warriors, Sword Masters, Black Guard, Greatswords, Black Orcs and all other manner of elite units will easily chew through Ripperdactyl Rider units whether through superior numbers or their own considerable melee prowess. With three Killing Blow attacks per model it is obvious that Ripperdactyls are intended as character assassins and cavalry hunters, but being Frenzied with such a low Leadership value despite Cold-Blooded means they will often attempt to charge a unit you don't want them in combat with. That they must always pursue can be a hefty downside if your opponent knows how to Frenzy bait with chaff units, though there are tricks to solving this particular issue with the unit. For one, having the first turn and using the Vanguard movement means the Ripperdactyls are incapable of charging and are thus free to advance up the battlefield. Additionally, the ability to freely reform as much as they want during their movement phase has led many wily players to deploying Ripperdactyls facing backwards towards your own deployment zone, then spinning them around so that you can set up a favourable turn two charge.

If you really want Ripperdactyls to destroy a given unit, their Toad Rage special rule is the key to doing so, increasing the Frenzy of the riders to D3+1 rather than the usual +1 attack against a single unit of your choice at the start of the game - all those Armour Piercing and Killing Blow attacks are enough to devastate nearly any heavy cavalry unit, certainly! This still doesn't mean you should put a marker on a ranked infantry unit even though you can easily set up a rear charge with the unit as Ripperdactyl's can quickly become bogged down and lack the fragility to properly hold up most units for an extended combat. At the very least, however, you can use Ripperdactyls as your guaranteed war machine destroyers with their insane mobility and impressive combat profile, then switch them to targeting sizable ranged units such as Dwarf Quarreler regiments or the equivalents from other army books where Ripperdactyls' can tear apart several models a turn in quick succession. Where Terradons are more of a generalist choice because they can be useful in almost any phase of the game, the combat restriction of Ripperdactyl's means they are especially vulnerable against Elves, though their improved armour save does help to compensate for this against the strong ranged presence such armies typically possess.
Competitive? Yes.

Thank you all for reading this entry in my Lizardmen Unit Overview series! This set of mini-reviews is intended to act as a brief introduction to each unit and army special rule in the Lizardmen army book, providing some insights into how they function competitively without going into nearly as much length as my proper Tactica articles. Even if you aren't a fan of Lizardmen, I hope you can find something useful from this series for use in your games either employing or fighting against the warriors of Lustria! Don't forget to have a nice day and please leave any feedback you have in the comments section below - all critiques are appreciated!  

No comments:

Post a Comment