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8th Ed. Skink Priest Tactica for the New Army Book

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Picking Your Spells

    Regardless of whether you take Beasts or Heavens (or play End Times and take Undeath) for your Skink Priests, you should probably roll your Slann’s spells first. Skink Priests are your backups. If you roll a high casting cost spell for a Skink Priest that fills the same niche as a spell the Slann has, then you should probably swap it for the more utilitarian signature spells.

    If your Slann is taking the same Lore as the Skink Priest, it’s probably even more helpful to roll the Slann first. You can pretty much pick whatever spells for your Skink Priest that you want that way (Transformationof Kadon anyone?). If your Slann has lore master, has Wandering Deliberations, you have two Slann, or you are planning to use a lot of bound spells then you don’t have to strain your brains picking your Skink since they will probably never be casting any spells.

    Lore of Heavens for Skink Priests

    Iceshard Blizzard: This isn’t the greatest spell in the world, but there are no matchups I can think of where Iceshard Blizzard’s simple hex can’t do SOMETHING helpful. If there is a spell on the list you really don’t want take solace that you can’t do worse than Iceshard Blizzard.

    Harmonic Convergence: It’s cheap to cast and there isn’t a single unit in Warhammer that won’t benefit from ignoring 1s, the trick is figuring out which units need the bonus the most.

    Wind Blast: I’ve tried to come up with a way to use this, but 1d3+1 inches isn’t far enough to seriously slow down enemy advances and it’s hard to count on units being close enough together to get collision hits. This is probably the least useful spell of the lore. In most cases I’d swap this spell out for Blizzard without a second thought.

    Curse of the Midnight Wind: Potentially as useful as Harmonic Convergence. I prefer the lower casting value of Harmonic Convergence though. I’d drop this for Iceshard Blizzard if my list had a Slann (you shouldn’t give yoru Skink Priest too many dice with a Slann around), but I hold on to it if my list was Slann-less.

    Urannon’s Thunderbolt: I remember fondly in 6th edition when this spell had unlimited range and no required line of sight. It’s still an okay spell, 1d6 hits isn’t going to devastate a horde of enemies, but S6 hits are fairly potent. The spell is best used on lone models and small units like elite cav where you can use the high Strength to counter their high T and AS. Unless your list is Slann-less I’d ditch this for the signature spell unless your opponent is running some nasty flyers.

    Comet of Casandora: Lots of damage potential but a little unreliable sometimes going off too early and too late. It’s a lot of damage for a 12+ spell and can’t be dispelled once cast. Fantastic for blasting war machines. Not bad at blasting other troops if you know where they are planning to go. I’d probably hold on to this on a Skink Priest regardless of whether I had a Slann or not.

    Chain Lightning: A third of the time spell is identical to Uranon’s Thunderbolt though with the higher casting level. There’s a chance the spell will be spectacular hitting a theoretically unlimited number of units. I’m personally not a gambler. Magic is already risky enough: you can get an unfavorable winds of magic roll, you can miscast, you can fail to successfully cast your first spell, etc. In most cases I’d drop this spell for Iceshard Blizzard but if you are planning to use a Skink Priest as a Hand Grenade, this is a good spell to throw six dice at.

    Lore of Beasts for Skink Priests

    Wyssan’s Wildform: The signature spell is so good, it’s almost not even worth rolling your Skink Priest’s spells. It’s 10+ to cast so you probably don’t want three or four Wyssan’s casters though so don't go too crazy with this spell.

    The Flock of Doom: If you are facing some lightly armored low toughness enemies, this spell is probably worth holding on to. It’s very easy to cast so if there are targets vulnerable to this it’s worth using. Most armies don’t have units that are vulnerable to this spell though.

    Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt: Boosting toughness of characters? It’s too situational for my tastes. I’d probably dump this spell for Wyssan’s without pausing.

    Curse of Anraheir: I prefer this spell over Wyssan's. For the same casting difficulty you can adjust a combat similarly to Wyssan's but in the other direction. With the long range it’s a good spell to cast in the early game and hopefully trigger some Dangerous Terrain Tests.

    Amber Spear: On a Slann-less list I’d definitely hold on to this. Skink priests in Skirmishing units should be able to set up very nice sideways shots. If I had a Slann with his own damaging spells, I’d probably dump this spell for Wyssan’s unless the enemy had a lot of cavalry.

    The Savage Beasts of Horros: I’d hold onto this spell in a Slann-less list (since I am assuming a Slann-less list is packing LOTS of Saurus characters). For only a little more casting difficulty than Impentrable Pelt, you have a much more potent buff. With a Slann, I would dump this spell for Wyssan’s most of the time unless I was especially concerned with enemy blenders characters.

    Transformation of Kadon: This spell is almost unbearably cool. I don't know if it's useful, but it sure is cool. Unfortunately you need a lot of dice to cast it. I’m all for getting a free Hydra, but the Hydra doesn’t help you much if it’s killed by a miscast. To get good use out of this spell, you need your Skink Priest to be near the enemy which is precisely where Skink Priests prefer not to be. Still the THREAT of casting this spell can make your opponents cautious with dispel dice. It’s nice to have a proverbial nuke in your pocket.

    Lore of Undeath for Skink Priests

    Ryze, the Grave Call (signature spell): A Skink Priest with this spell should run around the board summoning skeletons or zombies in annoying places. Generally you don’t want to mess with the augmented versions of the spell.

    Morkharn, Breath of Darkness: Healing and moving undead. I’d drop this spell for the signature, you probably won’t have enough friendly undead units on the board to make this worthwhile.

    Sulekhim, Hand of Dust: A wizard can sub all of his attacks for a single über attack that inflicts d6 wounds and ignores armor saves. Since Skink Priests should not be in close combat if they can help it, this is a hard spell to use. Drop this for the signature.

    Khizzar, the Soul Stealer: Kind of like a stronger but less focused version of Spirit Leech. Very handy against low Ld targets, especially tough ones like Monsters. Because the spell is intended more fore generating Raise the Dead tokens than doing damage it’s good if you have multiple Undeath spells, but bad if it’s your only Undeath spell.

    Razkhar, the Abyssal Swarm: Just like with Ryze, I’d advise Skink Priests avoid the augmented version and focus on cheap speed bumps (or support bats). For a Skink it’s slightly better than Ryze because you don’t really need to spend Raise the Dead tokens on this one.

    Kandorak, the Harbringer: This spell is the best an Undeath Skink can hope for. This spell summons a 65 point character or a 200 point Monster, Chariot, or War Machine. Forget the vanilla spell. Go for the augmented version with six dice. If the Skink Priest blows up summoning Irresistible Force you have a new potent unit that is more than a fair trade.

    Akar’aran, the Dark Riders: Summons 150 points of cavalry, monstrous cavalry or chariots. I would treat it similar to Kandorak. A good spell to throw six dice and hope for Irresistible Force (though five dice can work okay for this one).

    Everything needs a Purpose

    Don’t take a Skink Priest on a whim, make sure you know what you want to do with your Priest. This will influence which spells you shoot for, what items you’ll equip, and where you deploy your Skink Priest. The following roles for Skink Priests are generally not mutually exclusive.

    Skink Priest Caddies

    Only wizards can carry arcane items. Slann can only carry one arcane item and it’s probably going to be a Channeling Staff or Forbidden Rod. Some armies don’t have a Slann at all. Cube of Darkness, Dispel Scrolls, Hex Scrolls, and the various other Dispel Scroll variants are handy. If you are using a Skink Priest as a caddy, it’s still worth your time to figure out how to use his spell (or spells if you decided to make him a level two caster) and figure out a safe place to deploy him.

    You don’t have to caddy only Arcane Items. The Ruby Ring of Ruin is a nice cheap item for a little magic hitting power. A single Skink Priest can carry a Ruby Ring and a Dispel Scroll. An especially good build if you aren’t fielding a Slann and need all the magic power you can squeeze in. The Egg of Quango is a nice hand grenade and can still be paired with a Scroll of Shielding. For a real out of the box idea, you can equip a Skink Priest with the Horn of Kygor. It’s a one-use throwaway item and if you give it to a Skink Priest instead of a Saurus character your Saurus character doesn’t have to sacrifice a big chunk of magic item alottment.

    Backup Caster

    When I play a Slann, I like to flood enemies with low casting cost spells apportioning out power dice slowly rather than throwing max dice on the heavier spells like Dwellers. Sometimes this strategy results in me whiffing the casting roll on my first or second spell and losing the rest of my power dice. If you have a skink priest and your Slann drops the ball, at least you can use your remaining power dice to do SOMETHING.

    Primary Caster

    Slann are better spell casters. That’s about as obvious as saying “water is wet”. Slann have more lore choices, add +4 to their casting and have other goodies available. If you want raw magical power, take a Slann. Only take a skink priest as your primary caster if Slann are off the table for some reason. Perhaps the point size of the army is small, lords are not allowed in a tournament, you are running with a Saurus general, or running a skink themed army. If a Slann is not available, your options are now Skink priest or no magic at all. Multiple skink priests for extra magic are a possibility for extra magical power, but if you can’t get a Slann and want some magic, a single skink priest with a handy arcane item is probably all you need. Anything beyond that is going to have rapidly diminishing returns. It's probably better to take a one or two Skink Priests and one or two magical engines rather than taking three or four Skink Priests.

    Engine of the Gods

    The Engine of the Gods is very useful and I like to field Stegadons out of sheer principle. While you don’t need a Skink Priest to run an EOTG anymore, bringing a Skink Priest won’t impair you since you can keep using the Engine if the Skink dies. That means we don’t need to equip our Skink Priest with defensive items. If you are just running Iceshard Blizzard or Wyssan’s Wildform then you don’t really need to keep your Priest out of combat. It’s pretty satisfying to have a Skink Priest technically defeat a fighty character in a challenge even though the Skink Priest did none of the actual work.

    Poor Man’s General

    If your army point size is very small or you are deliberately going light on characters, a skink priest is not a terrible general. You are required to take at least ONE character after all. Saurus characters Ld only helps out skink units and LM are coldblooded, so the lost leadership bubble is not a huge big deal. If a Skink Priest is your general that means he’s also your primary caster, and he may be a scroll caddy as well. In a small game one nasty spell can ruin your whole army so even with your points tight as they are, it’s worth taking a defensive arcane item. You want to keep your puny general out of close combat since he still fights like an ordinary Skink and you don’t want to hand your foe the free victory points.

    Dying for the Greater Good Version 1: Hand Grenade

    The lives of the Skink Priests are nothing compared to the will of the Old Ones. This option is most effective if you are especially worried about your opponents dispelling power. If you can get a high casting level spell like Comet or Chain Lightning for your priest, cast it with six dice and try for IF. If the skink blows up, who cares? Skink priests are cheap and he probably already used his dispel scroll last round.

    Dying for the Greater Good Version 2: Expendable Targeting System

    The Skink priest serves as a vassal for the Slann’s magic missiles and works his way to get off good shots that the Slann can’t. This leaves the skink relatively exposed to danger. Like version 1, this is done with the understanding that if the skink dies in the process it’s not a huge loss. Now that we can vassal magic missiles and direct damage, this ability is better than ever. Especially for low range spells like Spirit Leech and Gehenna’s Golden Hounds. If you take a WD Slann you should probably take two priests to help you aim spells.

    The Cloak of Feathers is pretty much configured to make a Skink and even more accurate (and more dangerously exposed) targeting system than ever. Taking Kroak? Move a Skink Priest into the absolute middle of your enemies lines and then really cut loose. I can imagine no more nobler death for a Skink than that.

    Dying for the Greater Good Version 3: Sacrifice a Pawn to Save the King

    Now that a Slann can leave Temple Guard units, we always have an escape plan if the Slann finds himself in a close combat over his head. If the Slann has taken lore of Shadows, High Magic (and picked up a lore of Shadows spell), or has taken Wandering Deliberations you can use Smoke and Mirrors to pull your Slann out of the fire and throw a Skink Priest under the bus. Sure you can swap a Slann with any character, but a Skink Priest will cost you less than anything else, especially if the Skink Priest is an arcane item caddy and already used it. Also a Saurus character or Skink chief is likely to be engaged in close combat himself which would only move your Slann from one trouble spot to another.

    Dying for the Greater Good Version 4, Non-Renewable Energy Resources

    Give a skink priest the Forbidden Rod, they add d6 power dice for your Slann to use, two thirds chance of killing the skink. With an Opal Amulet your odds of losing the Skink go down to 50%. (Special thanks to Ejpok for that last one). With the lore of High Magic having a healing spell and the ability to dabble in Life and with WD Slann, you are more likely to give the Forbidden Rod to a Slann these days than a Skink but this is still a viable build.

    Storm of Magic Games

    Even a level one caster gets the SOM spells for their lore. The Heavens and Beasts Cataclysm spells are some of the best in the book. Fantastic Foresight is especially fantastic. It should probably lead off every one of your magic phases. Skink priests may not be able to take a lot of hits, but they are cheap and easy to replace. They aren’t going to replace a Slann in a Storm of Magic, but they do have a supporting role to play. A lot of people swear by Oldbloods with Wizard Hats or Scrolls of Binding Wizard monsters. If that’s your preference, that’s fine. But I see much potential in a safely bunkered Slann clearing enemy fulcrums so skink priests can occupy them.

    In this case the flying skink priest would be extremely useful able to claim distant vacant fulcrums. A priest in a skirmisher block is nearly as mobile as that and a lot better protected. One thing skink priest can do that you can’t do with a wizard hat Saurus or Scroll of Binding monstrous wizard is caddy an arcane item. There are a lot of items I'd never take in a normal game that are very good in Storm of Magic scenarios. Two to four skink priests each with their own scroll can provide the Slann a lot of useful defensive support. Remember that the Hex Scroll and Scroll of Shielding still can be used even against a spell with IF or a Cataclysm spell whereas a Dispel Scroll cannot. A Cube of Darkness can potentially ruin a lot of RIP spells for good or ill.

    Warhammer Siege Games

    On the defenders side I would definitely consider taking a skink priest and wizard tower upgrade. Unlike a regular scenario, a wizard in a wizard’s tower can share the building with a unit of infantry. Lore mastery helps a level one skink priest a lot more than a level four Slann. This way you can be guaranteed the Heavens (or Beast or Undeath) spells you want. Windblast might actually be good at delaying something when you consider how slow battering rams can move and Comet is fantastic for blasting the war machines you are all but guaranteed to be facing and when you are limited to ten models fighting per combat, character buffs are more useful than ever.

    My first experiment with this tactic failed. The combo breaks down once casualties in certain section force you to swap units around, the means the Skink priest may get shuffled away from the wizards tower inadvertently. I plan to fine tune this strategy (perhaps MORE Skink Priests) and try it again.

    As a Siege attacker, Skink Priests are fantastic. Since a Slann is normally facing a wall a few inches away he can normally only hit one fortress section at a time with his spells. Now that they can aim direct damage spells pretty much wherever you want.

    Deploying Your Skink Priests

    Spell Use: A Beast Skink Priest needs to be fairly close to your main fighting units since most of the buffs are short range (but you can hide behind your big blocks). A Heavens Skink Priest can go almost anywhere since the spells are all pretty long range. An Undeath Skink Priest needs to move fairly close to the enemy since Summoning spells have a 12 inch maximum range and undead troops aren't super fast.

    A designated arcane vassal obviously needs to be within range of a Slann. Most spells you would use on a Vassal are pretty long range except for the Lore of Death, one Metal spell, and one Undeath spell.

    In a Skirmisher Group

    A skirmisher group is probably the best place to stick your Skink Priest. A pack of skirmishers is mobile and can probably avoid close combat all game if you choose while still serving as a useful arcane vassal. While your Skink Priest casts his spells your Skinks can throw poisoned javelins. Another advantage of a skirmisher group is that if the Priest does blow up in a spectacular miscast, he’ll take fewer friendly troops with him when he dies than if he was in a block of troops.

    Even if you are a staunch supporter of “Team Blowpipe” in the great skirmisher equipment debate, you are probably better off with javelins for the Skink Priest's honor guard. Since you probably want to keep your priest out of combat you are likely to want to keep your group at about 12 inches from the enemy to minimize your chances of being charged. Basic Mathammer tells us that multiple shots contributes little if you are moving every turn and staying at long range for most or all of the game. The shields that come with the javelins make the skinks a little more hard wearing which might make the difference if you get in a fight with an enemy skirmishers or fast cavalry. If your skirmishers are fighting an enemy character, your priest is probably doomed, but for a mere 10 points, you can buy a patrol leader and give your priest a slightly better chance to survive the battle by successfully fleeing.

    In a Skink Cohort

    If you just want a bunker against missile fire and are planning on keeping your priest away from the brunt of the fighting, a vanilla cohort will probably meet your needs. It’s not as mobile as a skirmisher but it’s cheaper. Also if you can get your cohort into a building they will be very hard to dislodge and your Skink has a heightened vantage point with 360 degrees of vision to serve as an arcane vassal or shoot his own lightning spells.

    In a Skroxigor Block

    If you expect combat can’t be avoided then you want to take a Skroxigor block. With that much damage coming your enemy’s way, singling out the skink priest will probably not big on your enemies list of priorities. Regardless of how you build your skink cohort, you should take a unit champion just in case the unit gets engaged and you need a champion to throw under the bus to keep an enemy character from butchering your nigh defenseless priest. As an added bonus your Skink Priest is well positioned to restrain the Predatory Fighters in the block. If you like me, tend to field your Skroxigor blocks side-by-side with Saurus blocks you can hold two or three blocks of Predatory Fighters in check with one Skink Priest. The downside of this is that a Skink Priest like this can be singled out with close combat attacks, but this may be a blessing in disguise. Skink Priests only have two wounds. If your opponent sends too many attacks, they lose a lot of CR by overkilling the priest. Too few and the Skink Priest lives anyway. If you are taking a LOT of Skink Chiefs, you can get some good synergy by placing the Skink Priest with them to buff the unit like crazy

    With a Saurus Unit

    The advantage is the Skink gets the protection from burly Saurus (or even Temple Guard). The disadvantage is the Skink is tacked onto the side of the unit since his base doesn’t match, thus leaving him very exposed. If you are very good at precise positioning you can position your unit so the Skink Priest is just barely outside of a close combat brawl. My own Warhammer abilities have not reached this level of skill, so I plan to stick with Skink units. Like a Skink Priest in a Skroxigor block, a Skink Priest with Sauri is well positioned to babysit your Predatory Fighters.

    By Himself

    I remember fondly when most of the Lore of Heavens didn’t require line of sight at all in sixth edition. I could hide my Skink Shaman outside enemy line of fire back behind a hill or in a building. Now a Skink without LOS can do practically nothing. A Skink with line of sight out in the open is not a good idea, since he can picked off by shooting. Even if you are going with the Flying Skink of Doom or some other Hand Grenade variant, you probably want to keep the Priest in a unit for the first turn or two.

    If you aren’t planning on using Arcane Vassal and are sticking with Iceshard Blizzard or better yet Wyssan’s you can have a lone Skink following behind your main blocks. If you aren’t facing a lot of enemy shooters or magic missiles, a lone Skink can enjoy relative safety trailing behind your main line and be able to cast buffs and/or hexes as needed. A Flying Skink of Doom is a lone model almost by definition, but you can still keep in a unit for the first turn or two and then launch him via flying. You can’t get any good arcane vassal action in if it’s picked off in round one with a long range fireball.

    On a Stegadon

    Deploying an EOTG Skink is not rocket science. You want it in the middle of your forces to cover as many of your units with the Ward save and maximize enemy units hit by the Burning Alignment. Protecting the flank of such a valuable asset is also a good idea. True you aren't required to have a Skink Priest to use an EOTG, but at least this way you aren't out much if the Skink Priest dies as long as the Steggy and Engine remain.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

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