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Tutorial Using Death Slann to their Maximum Potential

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Broad Overview


    Life Leeching: Life leeching is a useful attribute. Even with the bonus power dice that Slann with the proper discipline enjoy, I always seem to want MORE. A handful of extra bonus dice here and there is always nice. Especially if you are going double Slann. Purple Sun excluded, Death is more about precision strikes than mass destruction, so the bonus power dice don’t pile in super high all the time though unless you are trigger happy with the Sun.

    Spirit Leech: Sometimes the Slann will outclass the enemy general in Ld, sometimes they won't. Cold Blooded doesn’t make a difference here either. Quite a few lords in enemy armies have Ld10 which limits the usefulness. Most BSBs and wizards will have Ld 7 or 8 though which makes this spell handy for sniping at softer characters. In a tournament match against Orcs and Goblins I managed to wipe out four of his characters making a fairly easy victory (okay I killed one of the characters via Chamo Skinks, but I credit the win with Death). Even when you have a 50% chance or less of killing a major enemy character, the chance of insta-killing a character is scary to many people, so you can draw out dispel dice early. Spirit Leech is not JUST for killing enemy characters. This can really put the hurting on very powerful, but low leadership monsters which are a staple in more than a few armies including our own.

    Aspect of the Dreadknight: We have quite a few stuff that causes Fear or Terror already. I don’t think this helps Lizardmen much, but it IS very cheap to cast, so it’s a good spell to toss out if you have a die to spare towards the end of your magic phase just on the off chance a unit fighting your Saurus fails a Fear test or on the off chance that Saurus fighting a Fear causing monster would fail THEIR test. This is probably the weakest Death spell for us In most cases you'll probably want to drop this spell for Spirit Leech though. .

    Caress of Laniph: My favorite sniping spell, especially against non-fighty characters. Wizards and support characters such as engineers tend to have fairly low strength scores. Also this is the cheapest snipe spell to cast meaning it’s usually worth it casting this spell, even if the target in question has a high Strength score.

    Soulblight: Probably my favorite Death spell since it covers a major weakness of the lore in general. If you concentrate all your fire on enemy characters, it leaves the basic units of your army without direct magical support. Knocking back Strength and Toughness of an enemy unit down by one each can slide a critical melee in your favor or soften a foe up before shooting.

    Doom and Darkness: Unfortunately the leadership penalty doesn’t affect Spirit Leech, but there are lots of other cases where a big Leadership penalty to an enemy unit comes in very handy. If you expect to barely break an enemy unit this is nice to cast. If you are playing versus a unit that has to make a leadership roll to avoid doing something bad like a Stupidity afflicted unit this is good. This can help make a unit fail a Fear or Terror test (via Aspect of the Dreadknight or just our natural reptilian scariness). I think Doom and Darkness is BEST used when you are aiming to trigger Panic tests. The fact that it’s a Remains in Play with a 24” range too is nice. You can cast it round one at a time when MOST of your other Death spells will require the augmented to even be able to reach an enemy unit and there’s a good chance it will still be around in later turns.

    The Fate of Bjuna: My least favorite sniping spell. It’s more potent than Caress of Laniph damage wise, but it takes over twice the power to cast. I haven’t seen the Stupidity affliction on the target ever matter. Generally if you case Fate on someone the goal is to kill them not inconvenience them. When an enemy character has to die, it’s not a huge drain on our power dice to cast this spell and the other two. Lizardmen throw down enough power dice so even a slightly overpriced Death spell is useful.

    Purple Sun of Xereus: I have avoided using this because my other attempts at using magical vortexes have been less than successful. That and I used to think it was dirty pool and/or uncreative (I have since outgrown these naïve notions of chivalry). Mostly it doesn’t fit my battle plans save as a last resort to turn the tables if I’m losing. It is well known that Purple Sun wreaks devastation on low Initiative troops and does decent damage on medium initiative troops. I have also read horror stories of misfiring Purple Suns killing the Slann who try to cast them. I see Death used a fair bit at my local gaming store and most players work very hard at dispelling it all cost. When I play lore of Death, I often find my opponents holding their dispel dice back in reserve to stop my Purple Sun, only to find out that was a wasted strategy as it turns out I’ve cast every Death spell at them EXCEPT Purple Sun. In that case you can use Purple Sun without actually using it. I’ve done the same trick with Life’s Dwellers more than once.

    Lone Slann or Bunkered Slann: Lone or Bunkered, Slann are mystically mighty enough to do well without or a Temple Guard bunker regardless of the Lore they choose with a skilled general. That being said, I think the Lore of Death lends itself especially well to Bunkered Slann. The relatively low range of most Death spells means you need to march your Slann comparatively closer to your enemy main for optimum casting, so a lone Slann would be somewhat exposed against all but the slowest armies. Because a Death Slann well likely be right in the center of things, consider adding an extra rank of Temple Guard versus what you would ordinarily use. A Standard of Swiftness can help your Slann get into range a little quicker.


    Army Builds


    Unit Synergy: If you are giving your Temple and/or Slann a Standard of Swiftness or Huanchi’s Blessed Totem (or both) the Slann bunker can keep up with a Fast Attack style army. Not only will everything in your army hit the enemy quickly, but you can make sure some of the enemy characters are dead by the time you get there. Whether you are going Fast Attack or not, you need to make sure your Temple Guard have good flank support or the Temple Guard (and thus the Death Slann) will be double teamed and overwhelmed. Besides Temple Guard, Death Slann suggest obvious synergy with one other unit: Salamanders. Soulblight can soften up targets to die faster to Salamander fire and Doom and Darkness can make them far more likely to fail their automatic Panic tests. There really aren’t any units that don’t work with a Death Slann, just keep in mind Death doesn’t have as many battlefield control spells as the other Lores, so they need to be able to succeed based on their own merits without relying on buffs or hexes to save them.

    Given the short range of many of the basic attack spells, it is a VERY good idea to give Death Slann a Skink Priest or two to help them target their spells.


    Double Slann: Death is the greatest lore for a second Slann. Most of the other lores have spells that affect large numbers of individuals while Death focuses on assassination of enemy characters. This means Death balances with most Lores nicely. The extra power dice come in handy when two Slann are sharing one power dice pool. You are slightly less screwed if your Purple Sun misfires when you have a spare Slann. Also if Purple Sun goes off successfully, you have another Slann ready and able to use the mountain of power dice Purple Sun can provide.

    Any double Slann combo will work with Death on their team but Shadow is probably the best. The mobility provided by Shadows makes it easier to use a non-bunkered Death Slann safely. Between Doom and Darkness and Soulblight and the various Shadow hexes you can knock about any enemy unit down to a point where even skinks can walk over them. The Shadow signature spell can knock a unit’s initiative down letting them get hit by a double whammy of Pit of Shades and Purple Sun. Goodbye enemy Deathstar! Death and Shadows opens up the following really brutal combo (also given an honorable mention in the Shadow Tactica).
    http://www.lustria-online.com/threads/anyone-tried-the-deathly-shadow-combo.9484/

    Life provides lots of the support for your massed units that Death does not. It also is very thematically appropriate to have Life and Death in the same army. Light provides similar kind of support (though less thematically fun). The eclectic nature of Heavens makes a good match for the very specialized lore of Death giving you a wide variety of options. If you go Herohammer with Beasts, you can use sniping spells to make sure there aren’t any pesky unit champions to speed bump from your souped up characters. The problem is with the Beasts/Death combo is that you don’t have many points to spare for Saurus and Skink characters and two Slann for most normal sized armies. Fire’s strategy towards mass damage is somewhat at odds with Death’s surgical strikes. I can see some benefit removing the BSB with sniping spells and then casting Doom and Darkness before unleashing on a Fire spells on foe with fire to make Panic tests more likely, but in general I don’t think Fire/Death is as complimentary as other pairings. Death spells are not generally hindered by armor meaning there isn’t a lot of potential synergy with Metal.


    Mazdamundi: We don't have ready access to lore master for lores other than High Magic these days. When I play Death I like to have all three hero sniping spells, so I think Death would be my preferred Lore to give to Maz.


    Storm of Magic


    Death is a great Lore for Storm of Magic. The main objective is to assassinate enemy wizards and that’s what many/most non-SOM Death Slann lists are based on. Spamming enemy wizards with all three Death sniping spells round after round is a straightforward but solid strategy. Either you will end up killing the enemy wizards or you will have managed to draw out the bulk of your enemies dispels early in the round, leaving you a fairly open round for your secondary casters and Cataclysm spells. Many Scroll of Binding Monsters have low leadership scores, and Spirit Leech is as good as a cannonball for taking them down (or if not QUITE as good, the best the Lizardmen can do).

    Death has fairly solid Cataclysm spells, all of them are Remains in Play which is good because they force your opponent to choose between using their Power dice to cast spells at you and using them to shut down your standing spells (hopefully you have a Skink priest with Fantastic Foresight likewise drawing enemy power dice). Given the short range of the sniping spells and the amount of nasty enemies and spells flying around the table, if you take a Death Slann to a Storm of Magic game, you probably want to stick the Slann in a mobile Temple Guard block as opposed to sticking your Death Slann on an Arcane fulcrum. Also, as longer as your secondary casters stay in place, your Slann can cast all the Cataclysm spells he wants without having to worry about Arcane Fulcrum miscasts.

    I’m a fan of Death in Storm of Magic games mainly for the regular spells, but all the Cataclysm spells have their uses. The Cataclysm spells are pretty potent, but none of the three stand out as the clear MVP of the lore in my opinion.

    Choking Foe: The Presence spell lets you sap the strength of an enemy unit round after round. Not quite as exciting as the fire once and forget direct damage spells of other lores, but it’s only 10+ to cast. If you toss Doom and Darkness on the target too, they’ll die even faster and give your opponent two RIP spells to worry about. Don’t forget the Life Leeching lore attribute. With only 10+ to cast, you can potentially generate enough bonus dice from a casting of this spell to pay for the power dice you used on it making this a free spell.

    Ashes and Dust: The Equilibrium spell inflicts a large number of low Strength hits on many enemies. Fortunately it ignores armor saves making up for its underwhelming Strength 2 hits. It’s ideally suited for hitting low toughness targets with high armor such as most knights. It’s also best used in tandem with Soulblight (or any toughness reducing hex really). It’s also only 15+ to cast which is pretty cheap for an Equilibrium spell. A bad roll with a vortex is never what a general wants to see, but if it rolls over your Saurus or Temple Guard, you are a lot better off with Ashes and Dust than with Purple Sun. With the relative high toughness Saurus have, a daring general could even deliberately send the Vortex cruising through a Saurus block to hit the weaker foes they are fighting.. It also has a mighty 48” range, which is not something Death wizards do not get to enjoy very often.

    Crystal Maze: Very powerful, but somewhat unreliably making me want to compare this spell to Purple Sun. Unlike Purple Sun, when your luck turns south, Crystal Maze will not obliterate your own men. If you can get the spell successfully cast, Worst case scenario, you are still guaranteed to at least keep an enemy unit in place through their next movement phase preventing them from charging you. You have a one in three chance of that. You also have a one in three chance of pinning them for another turn nerfing the units shooing and spellcasting and their next turn’s movement phase too. You have a one-in-three chance of killing the unit outright. Not too shabby for a 25+ Dominance spell. If you NEED to kill your target outright, this isn’t the spell for you. Murphy’s Law virtually guarantees that it will not kill an enemy unit when you need it to. If all you need to do is get a unit out of your hair, for a critical turn while you enact the masterstroke of your brilliant strategy, than this is the spell IS for you. If it DOES kill the target unit in the process, double win.


    High Magic and WD Slann


    A WD Slann will get good usage out of Spirit Leech against most armies. Spirit Leech won't kill a lot of characters by itself (except maybe Goblin characters and similarly tiered characters). The real power of Spirit Leech as a stand alone spell is that it is a good monster killer (and I'm counting STANK as a monster here). A lot of the heaviest hitters in various lists have low leadership scores so Spirit Leech is a good tool to clear enemy heavies away if you have Skink Priests to close the distance to make up for the short range.

    If you have a powerful low leadership unit in the opposing army, Death might be worth a High Slann dabbling in for Spirit Leech alone. If you roll Caresss of Laniph or Fate of Bjuna you have an opportunity. You can pick up Spirit Leech later. With TWO sniping spells you can pretty much assassinate any enemy character you want. If you roll Purple Sun and the enemy army is characterized by low Initiative units, you probably want to hang onto Purple Sun too. Soulblight is fairly utilitarian too.
     
  2. Lord Tsunami
    Salamander

    Lord Tsunami Member

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    good article. thanks. however, i think it may be worth mentioning that if your slann is in a unit of TG and casts purple sun, he will hit several TGs with it.
     
  3. Kcibrihp-Esurc
    Razordon

    Kcibrihp-Esurc Well-Known Member

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    Skink Priests are EVIL with Death Slanns because they can have the spell cast from them as long as they are within 24" increasing the usually VERY small ranges Astronomically as it makes it double or triple the starting range :bored:
     
  4. Ixt
    Terradon

    Ixt Well-Known Member

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    For what it's worth, I've enjoyed the Trog quite a bit when using Death Magic.

    I know that everyone loves to hate them, but they're much more fearsome when they vassal HM/Death spells.

    Three of the 7 Death spells - all of which are good - are subject to Arcane Vassal, and the augments/hexes have nice ranges anyway.
     
    Scalenex likes this.
  5. Kcibrihp-Esurc
    Razordon

    Kcibrihp-Esurc Well-Known Member

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    Also after assassinating all the heroes the fact that they're a big fearsome monster comes in handy :walkingdead:
     
  6. SilverFaith
    Terradon

    SilverFaith Member

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    Not to mention that they help with target saturation. They might be ignored first turn, but after losing an important character to a snipe spell because of the vassal, their priorities tend to shift rather drastically.
     
  7. Kcibrihp-Esurc
    Razordon

    Kcibrihp-Esurc Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention they're still tough enough to take a bit of fire, at least enough to last longer then my poor skink priest with cloak of feathers, only slightly slower, infinitely better in combat and support, with a small ranged weapon and if you're running more than one Slann then you can project unit killers as well :bored: :walkingdead: :bored:

    Wow we've come up with quite a Brainchild here
     

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