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!
Army Special Rules
Cold-Blooded - While not every model in the Lizardmen army has the Predatory Fighter special rule, the Cold-Blooded special rule is endemic throughout the army and is perhaps its signature trait when compared to other armies. The theme behind Saurus infantry is that they don't hit particularly hard but they are tough enough and have good Leadership to hold back enemy combat units for a decent length of time, and Cold-Blooded is certainly the biggest proponent for such tactics. Usually, all tests rolled against a unit or models' Leadership value are resolved by rolling 2D6 and comparing the result against the value of the model after any applicable modifiers are taken into account, with a failed roll exceeding the value and a successful roll scoring below the value, respectively. The Cold-Blooded special rule ensures that the generally average to good Leadership of Lizardmen isn't much of an issue - especially if you have a Leadership 10 General - by instead having your units roll 3D6 as opposed to 2D6, choosing the lowest two dice scores of the three total rolled. Considering your main combat infantry in Saurus Warriors are natively Leadership 8 and traditionally rely on their deep ranks, Toughness 4 and 4+ armour saves to hold opponents up, any unit with all three of Cold-Blooded, Steadfast (or natural Stubborn) and at least Leadership 8 will almost never fail a Leadership test.
For an army that is ridiculously dominant in terms of chaff and the movement phase while fielding some incredibly powerful monsters and combat units as well, this is an awesome special rule that helps to make up for the low Leadership of most Skink and monstrous units in the army while securing Saurus' place as anvils rather than outright damage dealers. For the ultimate anvil, combine a Slaan Mage Priest Battle Standard Bearer with the Standard of Discipline and a sizable unit of Temple Guard and just watch as opponents are rendered helpless against your permanently Stubborn block that rolls 3D6 for all Leadership-based tests, choosing the two lowest scores each time, and re-rolls all failed Leadership tests on the Slaan's Leadership 10. Alternatively, you could always use Lord Kroak with a block of Temple Guard for an Unbreakable formation of Strength 5 and Toughness 4 Saurus, but then you miss out on all those lovely rulebook and High Magic augments! This special rule is so darned useful that even Empire Generals and Captains have an exact mimic of it and are often used specifically to provide it for their own highly important regiments!
Predatory Fighter - While Cold-Blooded has been a staple of Lizardmen army books for several editions running now, Predatory Fighter is an entirely new addition to the make-up of Saurus units exclusively and thus it isn't really an army-wide special rule so much as it is either a nice little boost or disadvantage to have depending on your perspective. Seeing as Saurus have traditionally been used almost exclusively as anvils given that they are relatively cheap Toughness 4, 4+ armoured models that can hold ground with their good Leadership 8 and the Cold-Blooded special rule, one could see the introduction of Predatory Fighter as an attempt by the rules designers to invigorate more offense-oriented builds for Saurus regiments. The results are, at best, mixed. The main benefit of Predatory Fighter is that Saurus units that roll a 6 to hit in close combat with their attacks immediately generate an additional attack that must roll to hit as normal, though much like the Red Fury Vampiric Power these additional attacks cannot themselves generate extra attacks. This has natural synergy with the Harmonic Convergence spell from the Lore of Heavens which is ironically employed by many Skink Priests, and in my experience it serves as more of a nice little boost for your units than anything else.
Given the poor Weapon Skill and Initiative values of almost all Saurus outside of characters, this usually serves to generate a handful or fewer extra hits that tend not to make too much of a difference to a combat result anyway. What is really nice is that characters get the full benefit of this special rule and thus giving Magic Weapons that confer extra attacks to an Old Blood or Scar Veteran isn't a bad idea for potentially generating even more Strength 5 or greater attacks. Before I move on to the somewhat silly downside of the special rule, however, I must first address one of the more glaring rule debates surrounding Predatory Fighter - do supporting attacks made by models with this special rule still generate extra attacks when rolling a 6 to hit? Per the rules as written, the answer is a clear and and solid "no"; models that make supporting attacks can only make one attack for any reason unless they are Monstrous Infantry or have a rule that specifically overrides the restriction. While Predatory Fighter will thus work as intended for Kroxigor in multiple ranks, any non-monstrous model with Predatory Fighter will gain no benefit from rolling 6s to hit as long as they are still making supporting attacks. This means that you need to roll the front ranks' attacks separately to the supporting attacks which can be somewhat irritating but ultimately it only adds a few minutes, if that, to the total length of a game. Still, the fact that this rule is somewhat limiting in that way and doesn't really do much for anything except Kroxigor and characters ensures that the secondary effect of Predatory Fighter is even more disconcerting than it really should be.
Being unable to restrain pursuit unless a Skink character is within 6" definitely outweighs the positives of Predatory Fighter provided you are playing against a skilled opponent that knows exactly how to control the movement of and dominate Frenzied opponents. With the possible exception of Kroxigor aside, Saurus units will rarely achieve victory in close combat by outright annihilating their quarry and thus the chances of pursuit are very high in any combat you gain the upper hand in. Failing to restrain pursuit is usually bad when your opponent knows exactly how to bait your units and win the positional game by getting pivotal flank and rear charges on exposed units, and thus the need for Skink characters is even greater than in the previous army book. Still, I don't think this should be seen as too big of a deterrent to using Saurus units - if there is one thing Lizardmen excel at it is winning the movement phase with masses of Skinks, flying Monstrous Cavalry and a wealth of Vanguards or Skirmishers. Heck, Skink characters themselves are crazily inexpensive anyway and a good list should feature at least two Priests, one with a Dispel Scroll and another with the Cube of Darkness, for some excellent magic defence. While I don't think the positives of Predatory Fighter outweigh the negatives in most cases, at the very least Predatory Fighter isn't an almost mind-numbingly silly addition as a certain other army special rule - or "meteor shower" - I could name for another particular force...
Aquatic - While certainly a far more useful special rule for the units in question than Predatory Fighter is for Saurus, to say that Aquatic is the most situational of the three army-wide special rules is probably an under-statement. Native to Skinks, Kroxigor and various units such as Jungle Swarms and Salamanders, units that are Aquatic in nature not only ignore all dangerous terrain tests forced by rivers or marshlands but can also claim rank bonuses, employ the Steadfast special rule by having more ranks than their opponents in a combat and even march as normal while moving. This is equivalent to the affinity Wood Elves have with forest terrain even if the buffs here aren't quite as significant as for the tree-lovers, though one could argue that as most Skink units are already Skirmishers adding an additional -1 to hit penalty for opponents shooting at them while they are moving through water-based terrain is a pretty hefty advantage. If you actually play on a board that uses marshlands or rivers then the applicable units - even Troglodons, surprisingly - get some very nifty little bonuses that you usually wouldn't plan on, though otherwise this is definitely a forgettable special rule. What is rather notable here is that the Saurus-exclusive Predatory Fighter and Skink-native Aquatic special rules are both represented on Kroxigor, giving their rules some nice nods to their background as seemingly over-grown Saurus that share a strange affinity with their far smaller Skink brethren.
Lord Mazdamundi - As by far the most expensive special character in any Games Workshop army book (if you discount the Undead Legion) as printed before any upgrades or optional mounts are taken into account, it would be fair to assume that Lord Mazdamundi is one of the most powerful characters in Warhammer Fantasy. While this is certainly true of the greatest living Slaan in the background, the actual in-game performance is another matter entirely. First of all, if you are going to spend that many points on a Lord choice that will almost assuredly also be your General, the bare minimum I ask of such a model is that it provides you with a Leadership 10 Inspiring Presence - Mazdamundi is Leadership 9 only, though I guess he does at least have an 18" Inspiring Presence. Secondly, said character must also have some very impressive defensive stats to justify such a ridiculously high cost - especially if, like in Mazdamundi's case, they are also the Battle Standard Bearer - and I would be lying if I said Mazdamundi was particularly difficult to kill. 780 points worth of an Ancient Stegadon and a Slaan Mage Priest has never looked so fragile, especially as opponents can field three cannons for less than half of the total cost of Mazdamundi himself.
As soon as any respectable player notices that the Lizardmen General, primary spell-caster and Battle Standard Bearer are combined on a single model on a monster mount - and with the way cannon-balls work, monster mounts are quite sub-par in 8th Edition for the most part - they will focus all of their regular shooting, magic and war machines on to that model and kill it in record time. For a model that is incapable of claiming Look Out Sir rolls, you had better expect it can survive more than two or three cannonball hits assuming average rolls and in that sense Mazdamundi fails completely. Yes, five wounds at Toughness 4 with a 4+ ward save is certainly impressive, especially with the five wound Toughness 6 Ancient Stegadon as a buffer, but war machines will simply tear this particular pairing apart almost contemptuously in record time. Your classic two Great Cannons and two Steam Tanks in an Empire list will statistically flatten both Mazdamundi and his Stegadon in one round of shooting, assuming at least one miss and one or two passed ward saves - regardless of whether Mazdamundi survives because of the ward save, the Stegadon Zlaaq is virtually guaranteed to die. From there, Mazdamundi will be perilously open to attack from roving Demigryph Knight units and other Ballistic Skill based shooting attacks from Helblaster Volley Guns, Archers and so on. The sad truth here is that those pair of Great Cannons and two Steam Tanks are still less expensive than Mazdamundi and can accomplish far more in three shooting phases than just killing the revered Slaan and his precious mount.
The equation becomes even more unbalanced if Dwarfs or Dark Elves enter the fray, with the former bringing upwards of six or seven runed war machines for an equivalent cost to Mazdamundi and easily annihilating him in one round, while the latter can use the cheesy Cauldron gun-line build in conjunction with six-dicing Doombolt on Warlocks to splatter the pair in a matter of minutes, not turns. And heck, unless you bring a second Slaan - but really, why would you waste so many points on just spell-casters when you have no reliable power dice generation like Tomb Kings? - you will not only lose your probably General and guaranteed Battle Standard Bearer when Mazdamundi is eventually slain, but also your primary spell-caster. Any opponent that ignores Mazdamundi in favour of other targets is either just letting you enjoy the sight of a nicely converted model on the table-top or actively shooting themselves in the foot by not exploiting so many standard and bonus victory points in one ridiculously vulnerable model. Oh, and watch out for the Pit of Shades or Purple Sun of Xereus - both will outright slay both Mazdamundi and Zlaaq at least two thirds of the time they are cast.
If you somehow manage to get over the fact that this model is ridiculously easy to kill when its raw cost is accounted for and suffers the Gorbad Ironclaw syndrome of combining two many roles into one model, there isn't much to look forward to in terms of actual damage output. The Ancient Stegadon lacks any of the ranged weapons or upgrades a usual specimen of its type would have, meaning it relies purely on Impact Hits and Thunderstomps to do damage - and the former is neutered compared to a regular variants' Impact Hits given that it lacks the upgrades. Mazdamundi himself is pitiful in close combat with Weapon Skill 2, Initiative 2 and a single attack. That his magic weapon has Always Strikes First means little as it will almost never benefit from the re-roll to hit, relying on its Poisoned status to inflict a wound. The whole reason Mazdamundi even has this Mace is for the purpose of destroying a models' magic items entirely on a D6 roll of a 6 provided Mazdamundi actually hits them, but given his terrible stats and single attack with the effect only working on a 6, this is a pathetic ability and one that will almost never actually function.
The only thing that is left afterwards is Mazdamundi's magic capabilities, and even these aren't quite as impressive as you would expect both of a model this expensive and one that is the oldest living Slaan hailing from the Second Generation - still, at the very least Mazdamundi does perform well in this regard. He is a Level 4 Wizard that can choose either High Magic or one of the eight rulebook spell lores just like a regular Slaan, though this comes with a twist as Mazdamundi is a Loremaster of whatever spell lore he chooses to use. I won't beat around the bush here; this is a fantastic ability to have and makes him easily the most versatile spell-caster in the army book, though the fact that you have to choose which lore to use in the army list creation phase does make him a lot less versatile than someone like Nagash or Teclis. That Mazdamundi is a wizard level below both of those aforementioned power-houses is a real kick in the teeth, but at least you can guarantee having all the spells in any lore of your choice and build your army list around that - though if you aren't already specifically list-tailoring around a near 800-point model then I think you have got your priorities all wrong.
Like any named Slaan, Mazdamundi does come stock with some of the Disciplines of the Old Ones, namely the Becalming Cogitation, Harmonic Convergence, Soul of Stone and Transcendent Healing disciplines. To boil it all down to the basic once dice averages are involved, Mazdamundi will re-roll his first failed dispel attempt per opposing Magic phase, he will successfully channel once every game turn on average (by channeling two extra dice than normal), he can modify miscast results ever so slightly and has what effectively amounts to the old (and mediocre) Tyranid Regeneration. These are solid disciplines to have but ultimately the fact that Transcendent Healing won't work for Zlaaq and the fact that an opponent can pretty easily kill Mazdamundi in one round with combined forces that cost less doesn't really help his chances. The only other noteworthy thing about the ancient Slaan is his magical banner which can be used to impose a -1 to hit penalty on all enemy units shooting at friendly Lizardmen units - including Mazdamundi himself - for a single enemy turn. While this is pretty darned handy not only for the army but also the giant target that is Mazdamundi, that what is most likely to kill him doesn't operate off of Ballistic Skill means its uses are rather limited.
Let us be frank here; this is not the profile of a near 800 point model that is supposed to be arguably the most powerful living mage in Warhammer Fantasy. That Teclis, Nagash and Mannfred von Carstein are undeniably better spell-casters (or at least dominate the magic phase better) than Mazdamundi - heck, any Undead Level 4 Wizard backed by a Hierotitan and Casket of Souls works - is not only disappointing but it really forces players to think long and hard about the worth of the Lord of Hexoatl. As much as I am not a fan of someone like Malekith and most certainly not when he is mounted on the expensive Seraphon, Malekith at the very least will wreck almost anything that gets in his way and is actually legitimately survivable with a 2+ ward save against all non-magical attacks that serve to make most war machines effectively useless against him. Expensive "all-in-one" characters are rarely done proper justice as they just give up far too many victory points and are lacking mostly in survivability and real value, and Mazdamundi just does not break this seeming drought in any way. While the actual idea of a Slaan riding a Stegadon is awesome, the execution - much like a High Elf Archmage atop a Star Dragon - is almost entirely lacking. By the way, Malekith riding on Seraphon has a 24" Inspiring Presence with Leadership 10. If a Slaan is even capable of crying, I'm sure Mazdamundi would be shedding tears right now if he existed.
Lord Kroak - If you actually want to honour the Slaan by fielding one of the greatest of their kind ever to live and perhaps the most powerful of all, Lord Kroak should always be your choice over the insipid Lord Mazdamundi. While Itza's Deliver has long since passed into the spirit world, what remains of the First Slaan is still more than enough to cause havoc on the battlefield. While Mazdamundi tries to combine limited combat potential with heavy spell-casting, Kroak should never be directly involved in a combat - remember that a Slaan joined to a Temple Guard unit hides in the second rank - and can at best be used as a tarpit against a mediocre fighter in a challenge. With a single Weapon Skill 1 attack resolved at Initative 1 and Strength 3 with no additional effects to speak of, Kroak is just as capable in combat as a pathetic Zombie - but of course, that isn't why you field the long-dead toad. The reason you can tarpit characters with Kroak is that his defensive stats are actually ridiculous with five Toughness 6 wounds and a whopping 3+ ward save, meaning that any attack lacking the Killing Blow or Multiple Wound special rules may as well be rendered useless against Kroak.
That he can just hide behind the rest of the Temple Guard and never have to worry about challenges he doesn't want to be involved in means you can freely deduce which characters Kroak can hold up and send him against them so that they generate little to no combat resolution, while avoiding the ones that can actually hurt Itza's saviour. Otherwise, Kroak does have two glaring vulnerabilities that opponents will be quick to exploit; not only does he have a pathetic Initiative 1, but he is also Flammable. While the latter will rarely come into play given Kroak's position in a Temple Guard unit, the former is undeniably frightening; a single Purple Sun of Xereus or Pit of Shades has an incredibly high likelihood of killing Kroak outright. Still, is this really a major issue given that Mazdamundi and other Slaan have the same weakness? Well, yes, but that is besides the point. Where Kroak really starts to become interesting is once you consider all of his many support abilities and equipment, most notably the fact that any Temple Guard unit he joins become Unbreakable. Let me rephrase that in case you didn't catch it the first time; if Lord Kroak joins a unit of Toughness 4, 4+ armoured Temple Guard, they will never run away from anything, ever.
Not only will your opponents hate you for this once you start using supporting wizards to cast Wyssan's Wildform on the Temple Guard, but they will almost assuredly start tearing their hair out once they realize all shooting and close combat attacks made against Kroak and his unit are at -1 to hit. Unless your opponent has access to a "characteristics-test-or-die" spell or lots of attacks that do not roll to hit - ranging from Terrorgheist Death Shrieks and thunderstomps to cannonballs and stone throwers - Kroak's Temple Guard unit will be almost impossible to truly destroy on the battlefield, especially when taken in sizable numbers. While a traditional Slaan can cause lots of damage to his own unit via miscasts, Kroak has an in-built defence against this by effectively ignoring each miscast he suffers on a 2+ to instead treat it as an easily manageable Magical Feedback result exclusive to Kroak. Losing D6 power dice for a Level 4 Wizard that casts his single spell on a 10+ isn't much of an issue, nor is a single Strength 6 hit on a model with six wounds, Toughness 5 and a 3+ ward save. Basically, Kroak makes a block of Temple Guard almost impossible to stop through non-magical means, even if their decent damage output won't actually win combats anyway. You can forget trying to steal Kroak's sole spell or reducing his Wizard Levels either (I am looking at you Malekith) as he can never lose his unique spell nor be reduced below Wizard Level 1 - if you want to stop the vengeance of Lord Kroak, you need to actually put the Slaan down once and for all. On a situational basis, Lord Kroak also causes Fear and thus so too do any Temple Guard in base contact with him, though this is admittedly very limited.
Of course, what would a Slaan be without their magic and this is true of Kroak even if he is but a mere dust-mite compared to his former power since his sacrifice aeons ago. Being a Level 4 Wizard only really applies to dispel and casting attempts seeing as Kroak only knows one spell, so essentially he is very much a basic Slaan with far less spell lores to choose from. Still, I think anyone that says the spell he does know is weak is just kidding themselves. Aptly named the Deliverance of Itza, it is a direct damage spell that is cast on a 10+ and can never be stolen by an enemy wizard. There are three versions of this spell; the first targets all enemy units within 12" and is cast on a 10+, the second targets all enemy units within 18" and is cast on an 18+, and the third targets all enemy units within 24" and is cast on a 24+. Given its specific wording, Kroak does not need to obey either the line of sight or frontal arc restrictions on most spells, but instead can just cast the spell at a variable range as required. As it is a direct damage spell, Kroak can cast this even if he is engaged in close combat which is amusing seeing as his mandatory Temple Guard regiment are safest in combat anyway, though unfortunately only unengaged enemy units can be hit by the spell. Regardless of which version of the spell you use, all affected units suffer 2D6 Strength 4 hits, while Daemonic and Undead units instead suffer 3D6 Strength 4 hits.
This might seem pretty mediocre at first, but then you notice that Lord Kroak can cast this spell as many times as you want in the one Magic phase provided you have the power dice to spare - just be aware that this does not override the "losing focus" rules and thus failing to cast it will still prevent Kroak from casting it again in the same phase. Considering that Kroak will statistically cast the 10+ version on two power dice and cast the 18+ version on four power dice, your opponent will really start feeling the heat once his Temple Guard unit closes the gap. It will clear out chaff and severely weaken infantry blocks with ease if your opponent fails to stem the tide of spells early on, though the fact that it cannot affect enemy units in combat means that a force dependent on getting into combat can just rush in and be perfectly safe from the expensive Level 4 Wizard. In that sense, the Deliverance of Itza is more amusing than it is useful, especially as Lizardmen really don't need help clearing out chaff which is what the spell really is best at. Of course, this is all before you remember that Kroak can still cast the Deliverance of Itza through a Skink Priest or Skink Oracle on a Troglodon - while you likely won't use the latter, having the former fly around with the Cloak of Feathers can actually lead to some brutal early game damage against opponents lacking good magic defences, though this is obviously situational.
Still, making an entire unit of Temple Guard Unbreakable and making them harder to hit in combat and shooting is pretty darn good value for only 100 points more than a stock Slaan, especially given how survivable Kroak is for the most part. I just find it rather unfortunate that such an expensive Wizard is relegated to casting a single somewhat limiting damage spell and is neither Leadership 10 nor a Battle Standard Bearer like a regular Slaan will often be, and for these reasons and more I think Kroak is more of a themed choice than anything else. If nothing else, Kroak will obliterate chaff-heavy builds like "Skink Clouds" or massed Dark Riders and Doomfire Warlocks in record time if they don't play very smartly, while he is certainly far more valuable than Mazdamundi. Seeing as Lord Kroak is well and truly dead and the husk that joins the battlefield shares a mere fragment of the First Slaan's ancient power, one can only imagine what a fully restored Lord Kroak would be capable of in-game!
Kroq-Gar - Before we begin, let us look at the cost of an Old Blood riding a Carnosaur with no upgrades between them; this combo is exactly 180 points cheaper than Kroq-Gar and Grymloq - keep this in mind throughout the review. While Kroq-Gar shares the exact same stats as a regular Old Blood, Grymloq one more attack than normal which is always handy seeing as it is a purely combat-oriented monster. The special rules are also largely correlative between the named and generic equivalents, with Kroq-Gar and Grymloq having two unique special rules between them and the latter featuring the Swiftstride upgrade natively - though Grymloq does lack the very useful Bloodroar upgrade, unfortunately. Kroq-Gar also features light armour natively which means you could consider the pairing as 155 points more expensive than the generic Old Blood on Carnosaur, so one need only view their unique traits to determine whether the added cost is worthwhile in this case. First of all, not only does Kroq-Gar himself have a 5+ ward save, but he also confers this to his Carnosaur which is completely off limits for a regular Old Blood; seeing as the biggest problem with a Carnosaur is its fragility and not its damage output, this is a much needed trait for Kroq-Gar to posses. It also gives the Defender of Xhotl a combined 2+ armour save and 5+ ward save, making for a very durable Toughness 5 Lord choice.
While he is mounted, Kroq-Gar also gains full benefit from his Revered Spear of Tlanxla, receiving a +1 Strength bonus on the turn he charges for a total of five Strength 6 attacks at Weapon Skill 6 on the charge in addition to Grymloq's host of Strength 7 attacks. If Grymloq falls beneath Kroq-Gar, however, the Spear still provides its other benefit regardless which is that all unsaved wounds caused by it are doubled for the purposes of combat resolution, meaning Kroq-Gar will generally win almost any combat he is involved if the opponent relies purely on static combat resolution like ranks and standard bearers. Kroq-Gar also possesses the Hand of Gods, a Magic Item that functions as a bound spell with power level three. This is used to cast Shem's Burning Gaze from the Lore of Light, a spell that causes D6 Strength 4 Flaming hits on a single enemy unit within 24", increasing to 2D6 hits against Daemonic or Undead units. While Grymloq thankfully isn't subject to Frenzy in the same was as other Carnosaurs, removing chaff early on so that your preferred charges aren't impeded is still important and for this reason the Hand of Gods is a neat little item to have with a low power level. Just be aware that if you do miscast with it, it will be destroyed permanently as it is not an innate bound spell. On the side of Grymloq, the great Carnosaur trades the usual Blood Frenzy special rule for being Attuned to the Beast; Grymloq automatically passes Monster Reaction tests and gains Frenzy only if Kroq-Gar is slain. That Grymloq has the extra attack in his base profile means that anyone missing out on easily obtainable Frenzy should be satisfied, while those that are worried about Frenzy-baiting and forced pursuit can happily ignore those deficiencies. If you want an Old Blood on a Carnosaur, Kroq-Gar and Grymloq do make a solid combination with their shared 5+ ward save and ignoring the potentially massive downsides of the Monster Reaction table, but otherwise you are probably wondering if they are worth all those extra points over the generic equivalents. The short answer is no, they are not worth it.
The Hand of Gods is more of a little extra than anything else seeing as you can't use the boosted version, while the Revered Spear of Tlanxla has some really limiting effects - if an Old Blood riding a Carnosaur somehow loses a combat in the first place, you have done something wrong as a player or had horrendously bad luck with dice rolls. The reality is that for less points than Kroq-Gar and Grymloq, you can get an Old Blood with a 1+ re-rollable armour save and 4+ ward save riding a Carnosaur with both the Bloodroar and Loping Stride upgrades and still be roughly 50 points cheaper than the named variation. With the difference in points remaining, you can then give that Old Blood the Sword of Might for a permanent +1 Strength bonus regardless of whether he charges or not. While the Carnosaur is strictly worse in combat than Grymloq, that it has the Bloodroar upgrade means that you can cause a crazy number of failed Terror tests and resulting pursuits with the Carnosaur that Kroq-Gar's Hand of Gods simply cannot match. You will also care less about the Attuned to the Beast rule as the generic Old Blood is both far more survivable and more consistently damaging than Kroq-Gar, meaning that you are far less likely to have to take a Monster Reaction test on the Carnosaur anyway. Overall, Carnosaurs are best used in specific lists that capitalize on their Bloodroar upgrade as they are just far too expensive and fragile for what they can otherwise achieve in a game, and none of Kroq-Gar or Grymloq's upgrades other than the shared 5+ ward save help to alleviate that huge issue.
Tehenhauin - It should come as quite a shock to everyone that has even the faintest glimmer of knowledge concerning the society of Lizardmen that a Skink wizard is the most competitive option of the unique Lord spell-casters as opposed to the two named Slaan Mages. While some might say I am crazy for stating this, Tehenhauin is quite honestly the only special character Lord choice that is worth taking competitively - even if this most famous of Skinks still isn't quite as useful as a regular Slaan Mage Priest. First off, don't even bother comparing Tehenhauin to a Skink Priest as his profile is far closer to that of a Skink Chief than anything else, and heck, you may as well forget a Slaan Mage Priest as Tehenhauin is nothing like those bloated toads. You should probably look more closely at something like a High Elf Archmage, where Tehenhauin's traits and capabilities do start to shine. While you normally wouldn't expect a Lord choice Wizard to be a combat character, Tehenhauin bucks this trend by having three Strength 5 attacks on the charge that are Poisoned, all at Weapon Skill 6 and Initiative 6. In addition, he also gets to make an extra D6 Strength 2 Poisoned attacks at Initiative 1 to represent the masses of snakes drawn to the self-styled Prophet of Sotek.
Considering that he is also a Level 3 Wizard and has some decent defensive stats with a 5+ armour save and 5+ ward save on top of three Wounds (albeit at Toughness 3), Tehenhauin is certainly a valuable little Skink. Having an immunity to Poisoned attacks is a situational but certainly nice little defensive boost even it is rendered mostly redundant by having a lowly Toughness 3, while allowing all Skinks in your army to purchase Hatred of Skaven for a single point per model is a cool but unnecessary extra. As a Level 3 Wizard Tehenhauin does leave you a tad bit short on magic defence much like many Undead players are discovering with Neferata, though the fact that Tehenhauin is a whopping 70 points cheaper than a Slaan gives Lizardmen players a Lord choice Wizard option that is affordable alongside an Old Blood on a Carnosaur. Being restricted to the Lore of the Beasts is obviously a downside compared to generic spell-casters but having three spells from a Lore that has natural synergy with the numerous Monsters the army can field is very nice; Wyssan's is always a great spell, as are the Amber Spear and Curse of Anraheir. While they don't shore up the weaknesses in a Lizardmen list quite as well as the Lore of Light or various other spell lores do, the Lore of Beasts is still a pretty decent spell lore to be stuck with on a named character, all things considered. Where Tehenhauin can get just a little bit silly is when he is attached to a unit of Jungle Swarms - he has specific permission to do so unlike all other characters - and shares their Unbreakable special rule, but allows the unit to ignore the Squish rule and thus never worry about losing combats ever again. Jungle Swarms are very handy to have for a combat-based Lizardmen list as they provide Poisoned Attacks for all friendly units attacking the enemy unit they are in base contact with, while the Ark of Sotek mounted on a cheap Bastilidon can freely reinforce their numbers each turn.
While Tehenhauin won't benefit from a Look Out Sir roll while attached to the unit, having a cheap Unbreakable unit that can literally feed wounds to an opponent and have little care in the world is useful - especially for traditional "Skink Cloud" army lists that revolve around chaff and dominating the Movement phase. You can deploy these as widely or as thinly as you want, but keep in mind that Tehenhauin must unfortunately always be in the front rank - you can't do a "dart" formation with Tehenhauin hiding at the back, sadly. Realistically though, when you compare Tehenhauin to something like a High Elf Archmage using the Lore of Beasts, it is really hard to complain about his abilities and points costs. Yes, he isn't a Level 4 Wizard and that is definitely a big downside, but actually causing some pretty decent damage in close combat while simultaneously having better defensive stats than many other Lord level Wizards in addition to some situational special rules means that he is at worst a decent if limited choice. He doesn't over-pay for his abilities and certainly has a place in many Lizardmen army lists, especially as he is incredibly cheap compared to all other high level wizard options in the army. While I will refrain from saying you should take Tehenhauin over a Slaan, at his points cost it is really rather difficult to truly take issue with what he provides for a Lizardmen army list. Another point of note is that Tehenhauin could care less if he miscasts when attached to a Jungle Swarm unit as the resulting damage will never match that inflicted upon a Slaan's surrounding Temple Guard, making him both a cheaper and safe high level wizard choice.
Slaan Mage-Priest - I guess the best way to introduce the Slaan is by saying "what was, no more"; these are not the game-breaking ridiculous wizards of the past army book, even if they are still the most powerful generic wizards in the game when fully kitted out. Unfortunately, that power does come at a price and it is one that isn't always worth paying - as evidenced by the Lords Mazdamundi and Kroak. First off, these are Level 4 Wizards natively and frankly that is always a good thing seeing as you require that for magic defence just as much as the bonus to casting and extra spell. A Slaan is also always equipped with a 4+ ward save which is a traditional item for other armies' Level 4 Wizard choices, while the Slaan itself has a total of five wounds at Toughness 4, or two more wounds than most other Level 4 Wizards. When you consider that most Level 4 Wizards with a Talisman of Preservation are just under 250 points each, that a Slaan pays an additional 50 or so points for those extra wounds, ignoring dangerous terrain, casting damaging spells through supporting Skink Priests and having unique defensive benefits when joined to Temple Guard makes it a pretty well priced unit for what you get.
Unfortunately, one has to remember that what you really want from a spell caster is that high Wizard Level - seeing as wizards should be hiding out of harm's way at all times, paying exponentially more points to increase their survivability can often be unnecessary. This logic weighs heavily on a Slaan's shoulders and unfortunately makes them inefficient compared to other Level 4 Wizard options from army books such as the Empire or Dark Elves; when you can hide in a Warlock bus or out of sight as a solo model, why bother spending so many points on defensive upgrades? One also needs to remember that the best way to defend a Slaan - joining them to Temple Guard - leaves their protectors notoriously vulnerable to miscast damage, with any of the Strength 10 hit results causing crazy amounts of damage to an expensive Temple Guard unit. Basically, the army book encourages you to spend a lot of points not only on the Slaan itself but also on their bodyguards in the form of Temple Guard, usually in sizes of twenty six or more models. While some might say it stops you from wanting to spent points on an "unnecessary" combat Lord (and besides, the End Times rules supersede this) it sure as heck doesn't save you points for important units like Salamanders, Stegadons and Terradons.
Heck, a Slaan can even be your army battle standard bearer if you really want to paint a "come and kill me" sign on them by basically giving up 200 bonus victory points on top of the actual cost of a Slaan once your opponent slays it. Whether rightfully or wrongfully, Slaan are actually your best bet as a battle standard bearer seeing as they can still be your General even with the upgrade; give them the Standard of Discipline and you will have a Leadership 10 General that allows every friendly unit inside its Inspiring Presence range to benefit from the Hold Your Ground and Cold-Blooded special rules equally. And hey, they are easily your most survivable Battle Standard Bearer option so...profit? As for which other upgrades you should look at using, perhaps the most common build is to take a channeling staff (in addition to the Standard of Discipline) as your sole magic item, then use the Becalming Cogitation, Harmonic Convergence and Focus of Mystery Disciplines. This will give you a Slaan that will on average channel one extra power or dispel dice per magic phase, re-roll a single failed dispel attempt in each opposing magic phase and have the Loremaster (High Magic) special rule. Not only is this Slaan awesome for magic defence and maximising your magic dice, but it also is arguably the most versatile build as the Lore of High Magic is wonderfully diverse with every spell having some great uses at one point in a game or another.
The lore attribute of the Lore of High Magic is what seals the deal here, allowing you to swap out a spell you have just used for a randomly determined spell from one of the eight spell lores of your choice - you can use the High Magic spells for as long as they are useful to you, then swap them out for spells that better suit the current situation! Another amusing combination is to take the Arabyan Carpet, the Lore of Death and the Higher State of Consciousness Discipline - this particular Slaan flies around and delivers the incredibly damaging Lore of Death spells to opponents at a close range, while relying on the Ethereal special rule to survive. The theme behind a Slaan is that while they are good value in a sense, you generally want to avoid keeping them stock as their unique combination of a high Leadership General, Level 4 Wizard and Battle Standard Bearer on an incredibly well protected platform (assuming you use Temple Guard) is priced adequately once you upgrade them to their maximum potential. The points invested in to a Slaan will thus almost always be titanic, but to say they aren't good choices would be an outright lie; they may be risky to use if you have bad luck with miscasts, but otherwise they are fantastic Lords that mostly live up to their stature as the greatest of all wizards in Warhammer Fantasy.
Saurus Oldblood - High Elf Princes want their money back! But seriously, just look at that profile and compare both it and its attached points cost to that of any combat Lord in the game; the Saurus Oldblood is possibly the most efficient combat character in the game when taken at face value. Three wounds at Toughness 5 with a basic 4+ armour save that combines fully with actual sets of armour makes the Oldblood by far the easiest combat Lord in the game to protect, while five Strength 5 attacks with Weapon Skill 6 at Initiative 3 are suitably hard-hitting and skillful. Their damage output is made even more impressive by the Predatory Fighter special rule, conferring the Oldblood extra attacks for any roll of a 6 he makes when rolling to hit in close combat. While this particular special rule isn't really helpful for ranked-up Saurus with only two Strength 4 attacks each for the most part, giving it to a Lord choice with five attacks that can get up to a ridiculous Strength 8 and still have good defensive stats is just insane.
While a High Elf Prince does have Always Strikes First and slightly better Weapon Skill to boot over an Oldblood, a Prince cannot match an Oldblood's base Strength, Toughness, Attacks or armour save - that they are priced identically sheds an unfavourable light on the Prince. Heck, an Oldblood can get to a 2+ armour save on foot just through mundane (i.e. non-magical) equipment, a feat matched only by Dark Elves; a 1+ armour save is ridiculously easy to obtain as soon as you take a mount, while lacking a stock suit of armour but having Scaly Skin means an Oldblood is a perfect recipient for the Armour of Destiny. On that note, how does a 1+ armoured Oldblood on foot with a 4+ ward save and five Strength 7 attacks sound? It seems like it would be expensive but it really isn't, rounding out at just under 240 points - need I mention that the chances of getting at least one extra attack through Predatory Fighter each round are extremely high, effectively leaving the Oldblood with six base attacks? With the possible exception of Crom the Conqueror, you will be hard pressed to find a combat Lord that can match an Oldblood at that points level for sheer survivability and damage output.
Oh, and if you want a giant lizard riding an even more titanic dinosaur, the Carnosaur may very well be the perfect fit for you - just be prepared to lose said pairing in almost every game you play. While many different builds exist for this savage combo, I generally prefer prioritizing defence on the Oldblood seeing as a Carnosaur will brutalize almost anything it touches. For the uninitiated this means giving your Oldblood the Armour of Destiny, the Dawnstone and whatever else strikes your fancy such as a cheap Magic Weapon; the Carnosaur might be fragile, but the Oldblood will be a living tank with a 1+ re-rollable armour save and a 4+ ward save. From there, give the Carnosaur the Loping Stride and Bloodroar upgrades and watch as your expensive but devastating Lord either makes it into combat very quickly whereby it will tear almost anything apart, or laugh as your opponents units flee from the terrifying maw of the monstrous Carnosaur. No matter how you kit out an Oldblood, no other generic character option in any army books' Lord slot I can think of comes anywhere close to the sheer efficiency of an Oldblood. About the only real issue with this character is that it makes a poor General - aside from being very survivable - as it has a mere Leadership 8, though given how cheap an Oldblood is it is really easy to run one alongside a Leadership 10 Slaan regardless of whether you use the increased character allowance from the End Times rules.
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!