Back to the spawning pools   5 comments

So Justin and I revisited Warhammer Fantasy last night.  I know he is working on a batrep so keep an eye out for that (his batreps are always a good read … and it is up here – Empire vs. Lizardmen (800pts)), but I wanted to do a postmortem of my list selection.  This is what I used:

Skink Priest – Lvl2+Dispel Scroll
13x Saurus Warriors w/FC
13x Saurus Warriors w/FC
12x Skink Skirmishers
12x Skink Skirmishers
12x Skink Skirmishers
Salamander Hunting Pack

I rolled up Curse of the Midnight Wind and Chain Lightning.

Justin rolled up the scenario and laid out the terrain while he waited for me to arrive.  We got “Blood and Glory” and he prepped a fairly busy table for us.  Different from our last game which was wide open.  This one was a bit more annoying to manoeuvre in but was much more interesting to play out.  Whenever we roll up “Blood and Glory” we ALWAYS say: “hmm, maybe we should roll again.”  And we do.  This time we stuck with it.  Good choice too as it adds an interesting depth being forced to watch out for your banners.  As you can see from my list I started with 4 points, Justin had 6: BSB, 3 banners, and a general.

A few things happened during this game that I wanted to talk about.

The first and foremost is my issue with Skinks.  I have tried on many occasions to get Skinks to be useful on the field and it has provided me with the single largest source of aggravation in my gaming “career”.  I read on forums and see some LM players talking about how they use Skinks and while it seems to make sense theoretically, in practice it doesn’t.  I know, I know, maybe I am just doing it wrong.  There is always that possibility.  Problem with that is I am not an incompetent gamer and I have thought quite a bit about various was for the Skinks to function and most get defeated by all of the negatives working against them.  Lets talk about the negatives now so you know what I mean.

1) Blowpipes.  On paper the blowpipes look great.  Poison.  Double-shot.  Combined with a Skinks decent BS and Move and Shoot should be pretty good right?  Should be.  Problem is the range of the blowpipe is 12″, Skirmisher formation is pretty spread out, and Skinks still take a penalty for being more than half range away.  All these things combine to make it almost impossible to shoot without either a) being way too close or b) not double-tapping.

2) Fleeing.  A Flee reaction to a charge moves the unit 2d6″ directly away.  Not 2d6″ + Movement.  The book justifies this by saying the fleeing unit is disorganised and panicking.  IMO skirmishers should not suffer this penalty because their whole point is to get close enough to shoot and then disperse when they are attacked.  To be forced to flee (read: Panic) when a charge is declared is ridiculous.  So having your movement (flee) range reduced to 2″ to 12″ from what should be 8″ (2 + 6″ move) to 20″ (12 + 6″ move) makes selecting a flee reaction to a charge highly variable.  If you get away, great, rally and fire next turn.  If you don’t you get overrun.  Against CAV you will “always” get overrun, against infantry you will almost always get overrun.  Not good odds.  Sorry to pull the math-hammer thing but sometimes, when a unit isn’t working for you, you need to do some analysis as to why.

3) Stand and “Oh, I guess I can’t” Shoot.  Combine what I said about the blowpipe drawbacks with the Stand and Shoot reaction and you’ll see that, because the Blowpipes are not Quick to Fire (like the Javelins are) if the Skinks are close enough to a unit to be effective they are too close to stand and shoot AND much to close to run away.  How is this a good situation to be in?

4) Fourth and finally, they aren’t very fun to use.  I discussed (read: ranted about) this at length last night.  A unit of 12 skirmishers is slightly more expensive than a single Salamander but the differences are dramatic.  The Salamander is easy to move around on the table, often very effective, and fun to shoot with.  Often the result of a Salamanders attack is, get this, laughter.  Either because the template drifts, or a misfire at a critical moment, or an awesome shot that envelops a pile of enemies in fiery death!  It is fun to find out what will happen.  The Skinks are exactly opposite.  They are hard to get around on the table, irritating to use, and almost never effective.

At the end of the day I feel like the only good thing about the Skinks are the models.  They look great.  And, as is the case with all the models I think look great, they suck.  You may disagree with me, or not.  I would love to hear some feedback about it that isn’t just, “Yeah, I run lots of Skinks and win tournaments all the time.  Skinks are awesome.”  Please address my concerns, correct me where I have made a mistake or misinterpreted something, give me some strategy advice, explain why it is I should have just been using javelin skirmishers all along, etc…  Thanks for any input.

The next thing is play frequency.  I don’t play very often and one of the things I bump into a lot is the demoralising critical mistake that often gets made due to lake of experience.  I.E. letting my unit with my only priest get overrun.  There are a couple of reasons why these things hit so hard and this is sort of a “time-capsule of self-encouragement”, so to speak.  Looking back to my time as a Warmachine player I remember the early battles where a lucky shot might take out an important system on your heavy ‘jack, or take out the ‘jack completely.  It was tough not to just scoop up your army and say; “well that sucked, good game anyhow, I guess.”  Back then I was able to play more frequently and, since WM was the game du jour, got multiple games in per week.  After a few hits like that you start to get used to the feeling that you have been robbed and keep playing.  You quickly learn that something that looks debilitating to your army often isn’t as bad as you think, you may not win but it isn’t completely lost.  During last nights game I lost a unit of Skinks with a priest.  That was all my magic and just a bit more than 25% of my total points.  I stood, head pounding, eye twitching, for a few moments to calm myself.  (Note: I was angry at myself for not realising in advance the inevitable outcome of my choice to flee)  In retrospect it was obvious what was going to happen.  Once calm, I then thought to myself “Just call it, you are doomed.”  I then thought back to many previous conversations I have had with Justin about working past that initial demoralization and I decided to go on.  This was the best decision I could have made.  The battle was very close and there were points where had a die roll been slightly better I probably would have won the day.  I turned what would have been a negative game into a positive game just by playing it out and seeing that what happened to me wasn’t actually as bad as I thought.  The key is playing fairly frequently which, unfortunately, isn’t possible for me right now so I just need to remember to make the bast of what I have left after one of these incidents.

Finally, I managed to cast Chain Lightning.  It is one of those spells that people tend to hold dispel dice to make sure it doesn’t get cast and it has never before been cast successfully as far as I can remember.  It only jumped once and only killed 3 models but it was still great fun.

Thanks for reading.

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5 responses to “Back to the spawning pools

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  1. Pingback: Empire vs. Lizardmen (800pts) – 3/27/12 « Tales of Gamers

  2. I know next to nothing about Lizardmen, but if the Skinks are frustrating (or simply not good) then why not ditch them and take something different? There must be quite a few alternative options in core.

    Our experience has been that scaling games up doesn’t really increase the amount of time it takes to play. We went from 1000 to 1600 to 2000 (and sometimes more), and I have to say that the bigger games feel both closer and more satisfactory.

    • Yeah, there are some great selections in core. Problem is I have 48 Skinks that I was hoping to use and the internet tells me that they are good and I am an idiot for not realizing it! 😉 But seriously, this last game sealed it for me. My core selections are ALWAYS going to be filled by Saurus Warriors from now on. Justin and I are going to scale up to 2000 fairly quickly. Probably not the next game but maybe the one after.

  3. I think Skinks need to remain support units, so will be ideal in larger games. Not because they don’t work in smaller games, but because other things work better at smaller points.
    It was a nice, tight game. Looking forward to the next one next week or the week after.

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