12 Dec 2014

End Times: Khaine - Imrik

Greetings fellow wargamers and hobbyists; I welcome you to the second last article in my End Times: Khaine review and discussion! Today I wanted to focus on Imrik of Caledor, a Prince of great standing and power even among the elder regents of Ulthuan. Like Neferata before him, Imrik has returned to Warhammer Fantasy via an End Times book, receiving updated rules in keeping with 8th Edition (and soon to be 9th Edition, I assume) that only serve to highlight just how much we have missed the Dragonlord of Caledor. While many will rightfully look more to Malekith and Alarielle as the leaders of their Elven armies with the Host of the Eternity King, Imrik is nonetheless one of the most capable and proficient fighters in the game right now - few, if any individual opponents could hope to stand against him even for one round of combat! I hope you are enjoying the return of this long lost Elven hero as much as I am!

Imrik, Crown Prince of Caledor

Before I begin, I want you as an audience to look up Imrik's profile in End Times: Khaine if you have the book or via other means. If we look at just the stats themselves, Imrik has the single best stat-line in all of Warhammer Fantasy barring maybe one or two Storm of Magic monsters that are unavailable for use in regular games. While admittedly his basic stats only bear two improvements over Malekith out of the nine separate characteristics, they are in the two arguably most important stats for a character and monster with a combined profile.

For those of you who haven't seen what Imrik brings to the table, try to keep your jaw up; Weapon Skill 8, Ballistic Skill 7 and Initiative 8 are enough to earmark Imrik as one of the more proficient fighters in the game, while Leadership 10 with an 18" Inspiring Presence range due to being a Large Target certainly adds to his value as a General. 10 Attacks at Strength 7 are alone enough to eat through almost anything an army book can throw at Imrik, while Toughness 7 with 10 Wounds makes for an impossibly survivable character once his impressive saving throws are accounted for. Nagash, the Glottkin and even Malekith wish they could have a profile like this that literally has no weaknesses and can destroy anything and everything from massed Toughness 3 Infantry to 1+ armoured Monstrous Cavalry or Toughness 8 Tomb Kings Sphinxes.

If those stats weren't impressive enough, Imrik has a sizable cadre of special rules and magical equipment that help solidify his place as one of the more terrifying opponents to face in a game of Warhammer Fantasy. This includes Always Strikes First typical of all Elves that means he will be re-rolling to hit or striking either before or simultaneously with any opponent, while the Fly special rule ensures Imrik will be getting where he needs to be in record time. Causing Terror and possessing the Valour of Ages are part and parcel with being both a Monster and a High Elf, while Martial Prowess is also represented despite being pointless on its own; it is there solely to affirm Imrik's place as part of the Asur, and to provide him with the very handy Murderous Prowess when he is used in a Host of the Eternity King list. On that note, you really should be using Imrik in that list as Murderous Prowess maximises his melee damage output; re-rolling to hit against most opponents isn't good enough anymore now that we can mix the Asur and Druchii, ancient rivalries be damned!

Satire aside, something I feel many discussions of Imrik have failed to point out is that he possesses the Fireborn special rule, providing him with a 2+ ward save against all wounds dealt to him that are Flaming Attacks. While this does serve to invalidate K'daii, Flamespyre Phoenixes and certain other sources of the rule, the main draw is the fact that most Dwarf Cannons, Skull Cannons, Hellcannons and damage-dealing spells from the Lores of Fire and Metal are rendered useless against the Crown Prince of Caledor. Whereas Malekith can easily fall prey to the Lore of Metal, Imrik is far more difficult to bring down through magical means, especially if they have Flaming Attacks. Of course, Imrik lacks Malekith's immunity to both Heroic Killing Blow and Multiple Wounds which means the Eternity King is still the toughest to bring down through conventional means - especially when non-magical attacks are involved.

Of course, the main reason you would field Imrik over other similarly priced characters such as Malekith the Eternity King is down to his ridiculous combat prowess, especially seeing as he is perhaps the only single model in the game that can fight a Banner of the World Dragon death-star head on and emerge victorious. This is because Imrik only uses his Magic Weapon on the charge, something which you will often find won't make too much of a difference except when fighting other monsters or well armoured units - 10 Strength 7 Attacks base with probable re-rolls to hit and re-rolls of 1s to wound is insane enough as it is! If you somehow forget the Strength 7 Thunderstomp or Strength 4 Flaming breath weapon, Imrik will eat units and monsters regardless - those two extras are just there to make your opponent shudder in disbelief at how one model will average in the vicinity of twelve to thirteen unsaved wounds inflicted per phase even without their one-use-only breath weapon. Considering all of those are non-magical when Imrik doesn't charge, an Elf unit featuring the Banner of the World Dragon would have to be insanely lucky to beat him in a melee, as protracted as it might be. Heck, the small base size on his official model ensures very few models will be able to strike him at any given time while being a Flying monster allows him to set up flank and rear charges with ease; those poor White Lions will never know what hit them!

Of course, I would be lying if I said the Star Lance wasn't useful on Imrik, even if it will be rendered superfluous against anything that either has a 3+ armour save or is Toughness 5. For those rare enemies that are Toughness 6 or have 2+ and 1+ armour saves - or happen to be Ethereal - the Star Lance makes each of Imrik's 10 Attacks strike at a whopping Strength 10, ignoring all armour saves (an ability of the weapon, even though Strength 9 and Strength 10 ignore 1+ armour saves anyway). If your opponent thought they could put a Necrosphinx or Spirit Host in your way and hope to tie you up for a good while, they can think again; the Star Lance ensures Imrik won't be held up by anything worth a damn while guaranteeing he will simply obliterate even characters as powerful as Nagash. Perhaps the only real downside to having the Star Lance on Imrik is that any army list featuring him can't then place that particular magic weapon on another model, meaning people wanting to play around with the humorous upgraded Drakemaster will be out of luck.

Another important aspect to any of these monster-riding characters is their survivability, and thankfully this is an area in which Imrik still excels - even if it does come with a few concessions. For one, having a 10 Wound monster with Toughness 7 makes Imrik practically immune to Strength 5 or lower attacks, especially seeing as he has good saving throws with a 3+ armour save and 5+ ward save. The rare few models that are Strength 6 or higher almost universally tend to be either Monsters or Characters, both of which Imrik serves as a hard-counter to. Where Imrik can simply issue challenges to the latter, the former is a bit more interesting - especially if it is a monster character such as Nagash, Malekith or Mannfred - because of Imrik's unique Lord of Dragons special rule. This provides a -1 penalty to all to hit rolls made by units with the Monster type against Imrik; the background equivalent of being a god amongst men and having them respect you even against their will. Basically, the only real counters to Imrik in the Close Combat phase are things that he himself just shuts out completely, while even the few proper ways to beat him are often thrown out the window just because he is still ridiculously hard to kill with his saving throws, high Toughness and ridiculous amount of Wounds.

When you remember that Imrik has the Fireborn special rule and his stats have no obvious weaknesses with each having a minimum value of seven, this leaves concentrated Poisoned shooting and "standard" war machines as the only real ways to stop the Knight of Caledor. The fact that Imrik is a Flying monster means opponents will have at best one or two turns to deal with him before he reaches combat and thus becomes nigh unstoppable, and even dedicated gun-lines will struggle to accomplish this when other high-value targets such as Frostheart Phoenixes or Witch Elf death-stars are running around. Poisoned shooting needs to get into a good range, get lots of hits and get past Imrik's 3+ armour save, while war machines need to contend with the fact that he is still Toughness 7 - only direct hits from Stone Throwers and Cannons can reliably wound him - and has that hilarious 5+ ward save. It doesn't help that he has a tiny base-size and can be easily hidden or covered by intervening models and terrain, making him a living nightmare to deal with even with a list built specifically for taking him on.

When all is said and done, Imrik is just as frightening (if not more-so) as the other uber-characters (re)introduced by the End Times, leaving Neferata, Orghotts Daemonspew and others lying in the dust as quivering mounds of flesh that can barely even register the giant magical lance sticking out of what used to be their heads. On the plus side, Imrik even has a nifty little support ability for those that are intrigued by the idea of a "monster-mash" Elf list using the Host of the Eternity King; once per game and lasting for an entire game turn, Imrik can provide the Stubborn special rule to both himself and all friendly Monsters within 12". Considering that he also has an Inspiring Presence range of 18" and Leadership 10, Imrik serves as an expensive but worthwhile alternative to a High Beastmaster with respect to army lists that want to use Monsters in significant numbers. If we account just for Imrik as far as characters are concerned, a Host of the Eternity King list can legally field up to eleven Monsters from the Special and Rare slots (though eight of those eleven are in the Rare slot, unfortunately) which gives Imrik's Dragonhorn some good mileage. Even a standard list featuring one or two Frostheart Phoenixes will surely get some benefit from the Dragonhorn as they are known to fluff their rolls and lose combats against Steadfast unit blocks.

Of course, at such an incredibly high points cost that makes even Tyrion as the Avatar of Khaine blink, you expect only the very best from this character and I feel Imrik can be a bit of a mixed bag in that regard. His damage output against single-wound models that are Toughness 4 or lower with 4+ or weaker armour saves is identical to Malekith's, while multiple wound models that are not Toughness 8 are better suited to Malekith's predations while Imrik is better suited against Monsters of all kinds due to his special -1 to-hit penalty imposed upon them. He is more durable against all types of magical damage including Enchanted Arrows from the Wood Elf book, but against anything that is Strength 6 or higher that lacks Magical Attacks, Malekith comes out on top. Most war machines are not magical which gives Malekith a huge edge in terms of durability, especially as he is immune to Multiple Wounds and Heroic Killing Blow which are the only really reliable ways of stopping these models. When you factor in that Malekith is a Level 5 Wizard with better support abilities, an improved 24" Inspiring Presence and what effectively amounts to an invulnerability against all non-magical attacks (which makes up the vast majority of damage sources in Warhammer Fantasy). I think Imrik is good for his points cost, but not great like Malekith or Alarielle are; at the very least, I like Imrik more than Tyrion because he is more mobile and can kill units without needing the support of his own bodyguard regiment.
Competitive? Yes.

Thank you everyone for reading my thoughts and impressions of Imrik, Crown Prince of Caledor. The legendary Lord of Dragons has been a notable absentee from the High Elf army book for several editions running, but thankfully Games Workshop saw the opportunity to reintroduce a classic character and I am as impressed by what I have seen as I was with Neferata, Crom and Valten before him. Truly, this is a fantastic time to be a collector of all things Elves and Imrik's return may as well be the icing on that sweet chocolate cake! If you have any feedback for me or want to share your experiences with Imrik so far, please leave them in the comments section below - we appreciate your right to criticize and be heard! Thanks again and please have a lovely day!

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