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8th Ed. Skink Priest Tactica

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Skink priests are not going to win any popularity contests when compared to the other non-lord wizard options of other armies. Their relative short comings are magnified by the fact that Slann are so awesome. They aren’t going to win a game by themselves, but they do have contributions to make so let’s discuss what a Skink Priest can do.

    Preliminary Assessment of the Lore of Heavens.
    Lore of Heavens is considered fairly weak by many. It might not have the awesome that is Shadow, Light, and Life, but I don’t think it should be written off. Heavens has a little bit of everything, two hexes, a buff, damaging spells, battlefield control. The problem is with other lores you can plan around having a certain type of spell, on Heavens you have to hope blind luck gets you the spells you were hoping for or be very flexible.

    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.

    Uranons 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.

    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.

    Chain Lightning: I do not like this spell. A third 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.

    A deeper analysis of the Lore of Heavens probably deserves its own thread. Let us look at roles a skink priest can play that aren’t tied to specific spells.

    Skink Priest Scroll Caddies
    Only wizards can carry arcane items. Slann can only carry one arcane item and it’s usually Cupped Hands. 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. The best thing about the Scroll Caddy role is that it’s not mutually exclusive with any of the following roles.

    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, can easily get lore mastery, extra power dice and miscast protection. 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.

    Engine of the Gods
    The Engine of the Gods is a cool idea and I like to field Stegadons out of sheer principle. The Stegadon models are what made me decide to collect LM years ago. That’s a lot of points invested in one model though and with the prevalence of artillery and heavy hitting spells out there there’s a lot that can kill a Stegadon. Even if the Ancient Stegadon survives the first cannonball the skink priest likely won’t survive the hit. Even if your foe lacks the long range hitting power to kill the priest, the priest won’t last long in close combat if your opponent wisely directs attacks towards the priest. If you are taking the EotG it’s probably a good idea to give the priest a protective talisman of some sort to mitigate the risk of your priest dying early. It’s also worth considering your liklihood of going first or not. If you lose the first turn your opponent gets a free round of shooting at your army without facing the 5+ Ward save.

    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 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.

    Warhammer Siege
    On the defenders side I would definitely want to take 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 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. EDIT: Play testing this showed 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.
     
  2. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Dying for the Greater Good Version 2: Expendable Targeting System
    The Skink priest serves as a channel 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. The utility of this is limited by the fact that magical missiles are not the end all be all of magical damage in 8th edition so the application of this is limited.

    Dying for the Greater Good Version 3: Sacrifice a Pawn to Save the King
    If you are taking a Slann without Temple Guard, you probably want to keep him away from close combat. If the Slann has taken lore of Shadows (as many players do) that Slann is safer with a Skink Priest than without one. If the Slann is engaged in close combat or about to be forced into close combat, you can use the Shadow Lore attribute to switch places with a skink priest (who probably already used up his dispel scroll) and throw the skink priest under the bus. This same trick works with any infantry character, but skink priests are cheaper than the others and less likely to be engaged in CC than a Saurus character or Skink chief.

    Master and Apprentice Combo
    Give the Lore of Heavens to your Slann then take a skink priest. Why would you do this? Well if you don’t take lore mastery for the Slann you (1) save 50 points, and (2) have a very good chance at picking the exact spells the Skink Priest will receive which is good if your plans for the skink priest rely on one or more specific spells. The 50 points you save on the Slann pays for most of the Skink Priest. It might be sacrilege to build a Slann around the skink priest, but I think the biggest problem with Heavens is not the weakness of the spells, but the crap shoot of not getting the spells you want. With 5-7 Heavens spells you are almost certain to get the spells you want and you don’t have to pay 50 points to get lore mastery to get spells you don’t want. Who hasn’t wanted to shave 50 points off a list?

    Flying Skink of Doom
    The cloak of feathers skink priest is a cool model. That being said, a flying skink priest doesn’t have much to contribute to LM armies. The little guy is very exposed and very vulnerable to enemy magic and shooting when flying solo. If you use the Master and Apprentice system above (or take multiple skink priests and roll the non-flyers first) you can all but guarantee your flying priest will have the specific spells though. The hard part is figuring out which spells benefit from a flying caster. The idea of a flying priest setting up chain lightning attacks is appealing but with a 24” range you don’t really need a flying caster to hit the target unit you want. Wind Blast is the best candidate for a spell to be enhanced by a flying skink. You have more options to point your Windblast in a favorable direction, but the spell is still very situational even then, 1d3+1 inches isn’t a lot of push. I haven’t ruled out the flying skink priest as a system for being a magical hand grenade but my early experiment with a flying skink priest failed.

    Storm of Magic
    Even a level one caster gets the SOM spells for their lore. The Heavens SOM spells aren’t too shabby. 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. if you want the Slann to have a Temple Guard, the Slann is NOT allowed to leave the Temple Guard and thus can’t occupy a fulcrum. 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 quite useful, able to claim distant vacant fulcrums and 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 a scroll. 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 when a dispel scroll doesn’t, and a Cube of Darkness can potentially ruin your foe’s entire first magic phase.

    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.

    Special thanks to Ejpok for that last one
     
  3. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Now some basic thoughts on deploying your Skink Priest.

    In a Skirmisher Group
    A skirmisher group is probably the best place to stick your skink priest. A skirmisher a group is mobile and can probably avoid close combat all game if you choose. While your skink priest casts his spells your skinks can throw poisoned javelins. 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 priests 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 6 points, you can buy a skink bravo and give your priest a small chance to survive the battle by successfully fleeing. 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.

    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. 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 his 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.

    Edit: Turns out Skroxigor are Unique so characters can't join them.
    Double Edit: But most tourmanent environments and the like let them join anyway. Probably best to ask whoever you are playing before hand just in case.

    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 leaving him 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.

    By Himself
    I remember fondly when most of the Lore of Heavens didn’t require line of sight. 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.

    On a Horned One
    That’s right, on a horned one. Lots of us still have Tichi Huichi’s raiders collecting dust on our shelves and Tichi could be a good proxy for a mounted skink priest (or the basis for a kitbash). Depending on how you interpret the FAQ, Horned Ones as a mount choice could mean that it doesn’t come out of your magical item limit or it could simply mean that Horned Ones are not affected by spells or effects that target magical items. If it’s the former you can enjoy the protection a horned one provides while still having ample points allowance to caddy a Dispel Scroll or equivalent. If it’s the latter you can only take a 15 point item in addition. Either way, the Horned One gives the priest a 5+ Save, extra attack at higher S and WS, and Fear. More important than those bonuses, the Priest’s base now has a footprint that’s compatible with Saurus, Temple Guard, and Saurus Cavalry. The Sauri can benefit from spells like Harmonious Convergence and Iceshard Blizzard and the Priest gets the added bonus that with all those Sauri, the enemy probably has better targets to hit than the skink.

    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.
     
  4. Maazie
    Cold One

    Maazie Member

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    Love this post. GREAT WORK!
     
  5. Eladimir
    Salamander

    Eladimir New Member

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    Fantastically detailed post. Thanks alot!
     
  6. erians
    Razordon

    erians New Member

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    Interesting read. Great initiative. I personally rarely use skink priests since 8th edition was introduced, they took a pretty heavy hit. EoTG got worse, heavens (unlike pretty much every other lore) got arguably worse, you share the power pool with the Slann, Channeling/Vassal got worse due to the lack of magic missiles in the good lores and he only adds +1 PD per game on average.

    "Dying for the Greater Good Version 3: Sacrifice a Pawn to Save the King" is pretty interesting, I rarely run shadow but I will definitely try this out if I do, had completely missed this.

    Earlier you mention that you don't want to chuck a bunch of dice on dwellers, insinuating that you generally use Life. The popular Slann Lores are Death, Light, Life and Shadow. In all those 4 Lores Banishment (Light) is the only magic missile, something I think should be mentioned here. Fire, beast and heavens has 2 missiles each so a Slann with those lores would benefit more I guess.
     
  7. Lord Tsunami
    Salamander

    Lord Tsunami Member

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    great post. thanks :)
     
  8. Ejpok
    Temple Guard

    Ejpok New Member

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    Hello,
    Yes is was a nice post to read. My i recomend a third Dying for the greater good?:)
    Use the staff that grants you more Power dice, and deals wounds:)
     
  9. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Technically it's a fourth Dying for the Greater Good, but I have edited the post to include it and given your proper credit. I value such feed back from other members (who probably have better winning records than I).
     
  10. totzro
    Kroxigor

    totzro New Member

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    Great post! Very interesting ideas, I find that the skink priest is fairly useless since you share the power dice pool. I use them as scrool/cube caddy. Though your tactic with the lore of shadow is a nice one.

    It's quite sad that you can't find more use of them since I love the skink characters!
     
  11. tZZq
    Skink

    tZZq New Member

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    Great ideas and suggestions!
     
  12. Agrem
    Kroxigor

    Agrem Active Member

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    Great post!

    Very good points and I think you pretty much nailed everything and got a good coverage of the subject.

    Only thing I would like to add that you could always give the opal amulet for "the dying for the greater good vol. 4". This would reduce the odds for blowing up your priest to 50% with the forbidden rod.

    BR
    Agrem
     
  13. Arli
    Skink Priest

    Arli Moderator Staff Member

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    I use that amulet with the forbidden rod every time. In about 20 games, I have lost the priest about 4-5 times (if that). It is well worth it's points.
     
  14. Lord Tsunami
    Salamander

    Lord Tsunami Member

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    i have the rod on my slann. he usually heals the wounds right back anyway (this is off topic though, sorry)
     

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