Thursday, February 21, 2013

Preferred Enemies – Warriors of Chaos - Skullcrushers of Khorne

Preferred Enemies – Warriors of Chaos - Skullcrushers of Khorne

This installment of Preferred Enemies will deal with the Rare choice for the Warriors of Chaos army, the Skullcrushers of Khorne.  Only Chaos Knights who have given themselves over fully to the Lord of Slaughter are allowed to become these living engines of death and carnage.  These hellish monstrous cavalry spell certain doom for anything that crosses their path on the field of battle.  These mountains of metal and death are able to crash through the thick undergrowth of Athel Loren reaping death and destruction for the Asrai.  How are Wood Elves supposed to counter these unholy death dealers of the Blood God?

You aim for the eyes…

But in all seriousness, there is not a perfect solution for dealing with this absolutely brutal unit.  Wood Elf generals will have to be both canny and conservative in order to ensure that this unit does not get past the front line and rampage his backfield. 

Let’s evaluate the actual unit and its abilities.  The Skullcrushers of Khorne are the elite of the elite as far as cavalry and monstrous cavalry go, with the exception of the Rhinox Riders there is not a harder hitting monstrous cavalry unit out there.  The unit has a Chaos Knight using the standard statline of WS:5 S:4 T:4 I:5 and A2 with LD:8 mounted on a Juggernaut with the monstrous statline of WS:5 S:5 T:4 W:3 I:2 and the together they have a 1+ armor save.  Immediately you are faced with a unit with a Weapon Skill of 5 which is equal to or better than the normal Wood Elf unit and an Initiative on the rider of 5 which also is equal to or better. 

Skullcrusher of Khorne

Skullcrusher of Khorne453441528
Skullhunter of Khorne453441538
Juggernaut of Khorne750543237

Special Abilities:Brass Behemoth, Daemonic Attacks, Fear, Eye of the Gods, Mark of Khorne, Murderous Charge

The unit may also take Ensorcelled weapons for 3 points each or Lances for 2 points. 

The unit is able to unleash on a charge 3 Str 5 attacks and 3 Str 6 attacks per model (provided they bought Ensorcelled weapons but like who wouldn’t?) and at a Weapon Skill of 5.  Do not forget that even after the barrage of attacks and the insanely difficult time of getting a wound through due to their armor save, you have to suffer a Stomp attack as well if you are infantry, swarms or warbeasts.  On average you are going to be facing a unit of 3 since that will encompass 234 points of your opponent’s army which means if you will have to deal with 18 attacks with strength of at least 5 from this troublesome unit.  They will be immune to psychology which means Fear and Terror do not play into reducing their weapon skill.  Also, the unit will have magical attacks which will negate our outdated army books Ward Save.  

So facing an enemy as daunting as this one, how do Wood Elves combat such a foe?

There are several methods, some of them are good and others are chancy at best but we’ll describe my methods of handling such an outright beatstick unit. 

1.       Ranged firepower – Choosing this unit to fire upon in the Warriors of Chaos army is a problem since the new army book provides so many viable options that a Wood Elf general will need to deal with intelligently.  Given that this unit has 3 wounds per model with a 1+ save, even at short range the best you can hope for is a 2+ armor save which doesn’t help that much.  Sadly with the exception of using a highborn with the Arcane Bodkins/Bow of Loren combo, this is the only method for dealing with the unit via ranged.
2.       Magical Might – I have found that augmenting the Wood Elf army accomplishes more than attempting to direct damage the enemy.  Giving the unit that is engaging the Skullcrushers (or will be engaging next turn) the Throne of Vines/Flesh to Stone combo and giving them +4 Toughness is a huge boost, especially if its your Treekin or Treemen doing the fighting.  You could also augment your dryads and Wild Riders but that seems to be less than optimal choice for engaging this unit in close combat.
3.       Redirection and Misdirection – while I dislike using redirectors since it generally means I am sacrificing my Great Eagles rather than using them for rear charges, using them to redirect Skullcrushers is ok!  A good tactic is to redirect the Skullcrushers that are frenzied into exposing their flank and charging in with a Treeman or Treekin. 
4.       Going toe to toe – Slamming your heavy armor/high toughness units like Treekin and Treeman into the front of a Skullcrusher unit is not the most optimal option but sometimes the only option available.  When this happens, you will want to engage the unit with at least 2 others and a flank charge as well.  Overwhelming force to force those 1’s to be rolled for armor saves is sometimes the only option.
5.       Catch me if you can – by employing Glade Riders, you are able to feigned flight drag the Skullcrusher unit off to the far corners of the board but that is often a chancy gamble at best since the unit moves 7 and the chances of catching you are not unreasonable.
6.       What the hell? – If your opponent decides to take enough Skullcrushers to rank up at least 3x2 or 4x2, then your only recourse is to Dweller’s Below, Ranged Fire and redirect that unit to the far reaches of the cosmos and avoid it until you absolutely have to.

My preferred method is to shoot the unit down to nothing and slam into it’s flank with an augmented close combat unit.  The main issue with this unit is that it cannot be ignored.  The unit can be pushed forward until it slams into your important units and then it goes berserk killing off your army.  The optimal units to face these guys in close combat are Treemen, Treekin and Eternal Guard (only if you are able to get a flank charge AND augment the unit with Throne of Vines and Flesh to Stone and you have a model with the Rhymer’s Harp in the unit – read: properly equipped combo unit).  Your other units like Dryads and Wild Riders will just garner too many wounds with little or no armor saves.

Let’s evaluate the weaknesses of the unit also.  The unit is only Toughness 4 which means some of the Wood Elf units can wound it easily and force armor saves (Glade Guard bows at short range, Dryads, Treekin, Treemen, Wild Riders on a charge, etc.).  The unit is subject to Frenzy which means it can be lead off the board to odd locations to prevent it from being used effectively.  The unit is very expensive, 3 models cost 234 points and they have a fairly wide footprint which makes maneuvering difficult. 

Here are the standard configurations that are being used for Skullcrushers:

1.       1 unit of 3-4 Skullcrushers.  - Options 1 and 3 are a pretty good course of action.
2.       2 units of 3-4 Skullcrushers.  – When your opponent fields this configuration you first off throat punch them for being a dick then you will have to work very hard on focus firing one unit down with ranged firepower while devoting your heavy hitters with augments in Option 2 to dealing with the other unit.  This configuration is hard because these models are no joke and can rampage through the army if unchecked.
3.       1 unit of 6-8 Skullcrushers – You need to Option 1 and 6 that shit, this is a ton of points and if you break this unit you are probably going to win the game since it will encompass anywhere from 500 to 700 points.  Redirecting with Option 3 after unloading with Option 1 will open you up to a more favorable flank charge on that unit.  Disrupting their ranks is key, especially if you want to make sure they don’t get Steadfast.  Bring a unit of Eternal Guard into the other flank and augment the unit appropriately.

The main thing to remember when facing this type of unit is to keep calm and keep track of how your opponent handles them.  If your opponent is keeping them in the back field for a later in the game charge, then that allows you to deal with the other units first.  If your opponent is ramming them down your throat turn 1 then you have no choice but to deal with that unit first.  My advice is to maneuver your army away from the core of your opponent’s army and hit this unit with surgical precision.  Many players will depend on the stat line to carry this unit rather than appropriate movement and charges.  While this unit has some serious firepower it can be defeated if properly handled in all 4 phases of the game.

I hope this Preferred Enemies edition provides helpful advice and an accurate and effective method of handling and dealing with the Warriors of Chaos Rare selection of the Skullcrushers of Khorne.