Ark of Sotek Bastiladon: A Mini-Tactica Ark of Sotek versus Solar Engine Bastiladons with the Solar Engine have been nicknamed “Solardons”, sometimes “Blastidons” or. It is very telling that despite our new book being out for a long time, we do not have a cute nickname for Ark of Sotek wielding Bastiladons. The terms “Arkadon” or “Snakeydon” have not arisen because most people agree with Skinkuel L. Jackson: And he is right for the most part. The Solar Engine bound spell's awesomeness has been well established in another thread. The only downside is that the Beam of Chotec has been known to cause delusions of grandeur in certain Skinks. The Initiative is not quite as useful but it will help a bit with spells like Purple Sun (not a whole lot, because the Bastiladon is still a lot of Monster points stuck in an Initiative 2 shell) and it will let your Saurus Warriors and Temple Guard strike simultaneously or before Initiative 2 enemies (Ogres, Orcs, Dwarves, most Undead among others) and Initiative 3 enemies (Humans, Goblins among others). If you are bringing a High Magic Slann or WD Slann, he is probably packing enough long ranged firepower that the Beam of Chotec is not needed and may in fact go unused. If you are fielding very few Sauri or your opponent is made up of high Initiative opponents, the Solar Engine passive boost will mean little. If both these things are true, you may want to consider a different Bastiladon package. Rather than continually compare and contrast the two Bastiladon builds for the rest of this Tactica, I am going to assume that the the choice of Ark of Sotek is a given and give you tips based on maximizing that. “Free” Jungle Swarms Unfortunately this is a hard ability to use effectively. I’ve tried keeping Swarms near my Bastiladon for much of the game, and I’ve seen other LM players try this. It is not a winning strategy. Most will agree that Jungle Swarms are a bottom tier unit choice for our army, so free Swarms aren’t that exciting. Granted, generally in life if something is free and has any use at all I'll take as many as I can get my hands on. Unfortunately, Ark of Sotek generated Swarms have an invisible cost. To get the most out of Swarms, you need to be ready to be flexible. Based on your enemy’s army and the emerging deployment, you need to be ready to use your Swarms to redirect the enemy, stall the enemy (preferably in a river or marsh), or use your Swarms to buff friendly attacks (preferably Sauri since Skinks can get Poison elsewhere and the bigger stuff doesn’t need poison to wound). It is very hard to be flexible with your Swarm usage while keeping them near your Bastiladon(s) If you decided to keep an Ark of Sotek near your Jungle Swarm unit(s) then you have committed yourself to using your Swarms as a buff unit. In order for this to work, you need to keep your Bastiladon near your Swarms and your Swarms near at least one block of friendly infantry AND you need to have a potent (but not too potent) enemy conveniently in front of your trio of synergy. That’s very hard to do because there are so many things that can go wrong. Terrain pieces or enemy counter deployment will thwart this combo fairly easily. You may decide during deployment that you feel you must deploy LM unit X to counter Enemy unit Y somewhere you wanted to place your Swarms or Bastiladon. Or you might just have trouble rolling 4+ when you really need it. Cannons or stone throwers make things worse, a Bastiladon that’s hanging back to generate free Swarms (or shoot the Beam of Chotec but that’s beside the point) is a secondary threat to your enemy. That means rather than agonizing about which giant monster to shoot first, your opponent will be targeting their artillery at your frontline dinosaurs, presumably Stegadons and Carnosaurs but also possibly including things like Salamanders and Saurus Cowboys. Once your front line dinosaurs are dead (or engaged in close combat), the cannons that would ordinarily have nothing decent to shoot at can then turn their attention to your Bastiladons in your backfield. To add insult to injury, they can easily shoot through your Jungle Swarms with no penalty. Conclusion: If you can get an Ark of Sotek near your Jungle Swarms (or your Swarms near your Ark), by all means do so. A free Swarm base here or there is nice when you can get it, but it’s not worth tying down a portion of your battle line to set it up. It’s not even worth delaying your Bastiladon’s entry into close combat. In my opinion, while an Ark of Sotek makes Swarms a slightly more viable choice, an Ark of Sotek Bastiladon does not obligate you to take Jungle Swarms and it should certainly not obligate you to limit your swarms deployment and movement options. Shooting Attack This is the money move of the Ark of Sotek Bastiladon though it is limited by very short range and a low damage output. It requires no power dice and is always “on,” even when the Bastiladon is engaged in close combat. T4+ troops rarely care about these attacks. Armor Save 4+ or better troops rarely care about these attacks. The snakes can do a fair bit of damage against T3 enemies with relatively weak (or nonexistent) saves. Given that most of the Bastiladon regular attacks are at Strength 4, these are exactly the sort of units that a Bastiladon should be charging anyway. The Bastiladon has a 2+ armor save, so most soft skinned enemies will have trouble wounding the beast. Terror is just gravy. The Bastiladon has no flanks or rear so you can get a lot of snake shooting in if you can get a Bastiladon surrounded by MSU low Strength enemies. Hard to do, but not impossible. The Achilles heel of all Bastiladons of either build is their low Leadership score sans Stubborn, so you want to keep your general and BSB nearby if you plan to let your Bastiladon get double or triple teamed. Even without giving away a bonus for flanks, a surrounded Bastiladon is likely to have a lot of static CR against it. A Bastiladon should be able to grind through a tarpit better than most things we have. Since you aren’t going to break the steadfast unit, the fact that the snake shooting casualties don’t contribute to close combat is a non-issue. Because the Bastiladon is so tough and well-armored, you will probably win most of your combats despite the enemy static CR, so you don’t need an anti-tarpit Bastiladon to be near your General and/or BSB. You still want them there though, but you can live without it. If you are fighting an elite unit with poor saves (such as Witch Elves) rather than a pure tarpit then your Bastiladon should be ideally attacking the unit in tandem with a block of friendly infantry. The friendly ranks and banner should keep your Bastiladon from being routed with static CR. You can get by without a supporting unit if the general and BSB are nearby. It’s not a good idea to fight enemy great weapon troops with a Bastiladon, but if said great weapon troops are poorly armored and relatively low Toughness, it’s not a suicidal move to engage them with your Ark of Sotek Bastiladon if he or she has infantry support. If your melees are occurring near each other, a Bastiladon can hit multiple units with snake shooting. This is good to set up if you can arrange it, but do not send your Bastiladon into a subpar combat match up just for a bit of extra snake shooting. Better to get one unit to throw snakes out that can’t hurt you then throwing snakes at three units where two of them can gut your dinosaur. Conclusion: In terms of infantry mashing, the Ark of Sotek Bastiladon is better than the Solardon. The difference between “negligibly better” and “considerably better” depends on the target. For the Ark of Sotek Bastiladons, large numbers of poorly armored low Toughness fodder enemies are better than small numbers of tough elite enemies, especially if said elite enemies have great weapons. Essentially think of them as a monstrous tarpit grinder. Point-for-point, an Ark of Sotek Bastiladon will arguably handle an enemy tarpit better than a Stegadon or Ancient Stegadon in most cases, particularly if said tarpit is trying to set up a supporting flank attack (given that Bastiladons do not provide flanking bonuses to the enemy). Mostly Bastiladons are cheap and don't have many front-loaded offensive bonuses like Stegadons so if the Bastiladon takes along time to chew through the enemy, no biggie. A Solardon can justify hanging back from combat to use its bound spell, but an Ark of Sotek Bastiladon should march all-out to charge or be charged as early as possible. Your Ark of Sotek Bastiladon needs to select his/her targets very carefully, and you usually select your unit’s targets in the deployment phase.