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I Challenge you to a Duel?
Skulltaker has always been one of the best fluff driven characters in the game. His story is a legendary one in the service of Khorne, performing many slaughters between the 40k and Fantasy. In the old codex he was useful tool for delivering out the kind of justice only Khorne would demand.
The biggest question is would Skulltaker suffer the same nerffing fate as his Bloodcrusher buddies? You can start to answer that question by comparing the old and new Skulltaker rules.
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Compare & Contrast
- Point Decrease 140 to 100
- Profile increases
- Cloak of Skulls
- Skulls for the Skull Throne to Slayer Sword
- Gained Lesser Locus of Abjuration
--Off to a good start--
Skulltaker got a serious cost reduction as a pleasant surprise. When you consider all the profile increases to almost everything! The question is, can you make a better Herald of Khorne for around the same points? The answer, yes and no, as will be detailed later...
--Worthy of some skull taking--
As mentioned before Skulltaker got some major upgrades, from I9 to WS9, making Skulltaker super nasty if he can make assault. He even got a strength increase, which is great in the new high toughness world. Skulltaker didn't lose anything, but some leadership, all for 40 points less!
--Cape for Killing--
The Cloak of SkullsThis Grants Skulltaker a 3+ Armour save and the Eternal Warrior special rule is a nice addition, fitting the fluff and look of the model. It also gives something all Heralds should have access to: a 3+ armor save. The Cloak of Skulls This Grants Skulltaker a 3+ Armour save and the Eternal Warrior special ruleprovides a pretty useless Eternal Warrior bonus for a two wound model, but since you will upgrade to a Juggernaut of KhorneThe model reviceives +1 Toughness, +1 Wounds, +1 Attack and his unit becomes Cavalry it will even out. It still feels tacked on though because GW didn't want to risk the OP potential on another character.
--The real skull kicker--
Skulltaker was one of the better Daemon characters because he could Rend almost anything with ease, now that is gone. Skulls for the Skull Throne Skulltaker must always issue a challenge if able, or accept a challenge if one is offered has also been changed to lame challenge death sentences. The instant death ability from Skulls for the Skull Throne Skulltaker must always issue a challenge if able, or accept a challenge if one is offeredis transferred to the Slayer SwordS User AP 3 Type Melee, Decapitating Blow, Soul Blaze, but GW should have considered making it AP2 instead. I know it seems like a bad idea, AP2 weapons, because Khorne isn't known for having deadly magical weapons...
--Something for the effort--
Skulltaker gets a weakest Khorne Loci, Lesser Locus of AbjurationThis model, and all models in its unit, have the Adamantium Will special rule, which wouldn't be bad if better Loci didn't trump the lesser ones. It would have been a better fluff solution to give Skulltaker the same Deny the Witch bonus like Kharn has, but no we don't want the anti-magic Chaos God stopping psychic powers used against his chosen champions.
Skulltaker has always been one of the best fluff driven characters in the game.
Putting it all Together...
Skulltaker is in an odd situation to say the least; he isn't top-tier, but isn't bad enough to be completely useless. Skulltaker is a character built for very specific armies and lists. Lists either all Khorne all the time or ones actually attempting to get use out of Juggernaut of KhorneThe model reviceives +1 Toughness, +1 Wounds, +1 Attack and his unit becomes Cavalry.
Let us start by saying Skulltaker isn't much of anything without his Juggernaut of KhorneThe model reviceives +1 Toughness, +1 Wounds, +1 Attack and his unit becomes Cavalry. Without the Juggernaut of KhorneThe model reviceives +1 Toughness, +1 Wounds, +1 Attack and his unit becomes Cavalry Skulltaker doesn't get much use out being Eternal Warrior and loses a point of strength and an extra attack. Even attached to a unit of Bloodletters, the utility of the mount have more benefits than just profile increases. The ability to break off at speed and engage units should never be underestimated, so unless you are playing in real low point games there isn't any compelling reason to move on foot.
Skulltaker is a good character to join to all Khorne units. Skulltaker is a great pack leader for Flesh Hounds, because of the combined effects (3+ Deny the Witch) with Lesser Locus of AbjurationThis model, and all models in its unit, have the Adamantium Will special rule. Skulltaker works well with Bloodsrushers as well taking advantage of Eternal Warrior and an actual real armor save. Really, the best and most devastating is Skulltaker with a pack of Heralds. Before we get to those possibility, lets reiterate, Skulltaker Slayer SwordS User AP 3 Type Melee, Decapitating Blow, Soul Blaze is only AP3, and that is a big a problem for any list you design with him. It also makes even less sense when Skulltaker must always take or issue a challenge even against 2+ saves.
That is where the Heralds come in with the ability to get Daemonic Rewards namely the Axe of Khorne for only 10 points. Did you notice Axe of KhorneAxe of Khorne is Melee AP 2 with Decapitation Blow and Specialist Weapon. Decapitation Blow makes all Wound rolls of 6 have the Instant Death special Rule also has Decapitating BlowDecapitation Blow makes all Wound rolls of 6 have the Instant Death special Rule ? The death star possibilities with Heralds are appealing, but you will have to read that review to find out more. As for Skulltaker the Khorne Star provides a cheap character that can take pesky S10 shots, as well small arms fire. Skulltaker can also use his suicide challenges to soak up hits deadlier to Heralds. It is the defensive abilities of Skulltaker that make him shine in the face of his character hunting persona.
Using Skulltaker in this fashion does take some finesse, since you don't want to use him just as three ablative Herald wounds. This makes positioning critical for Skulltaker, with any unit he's attached to, rotating him in and out of danger. What about combining Heralds and Skulltaker with a unit like Flesh Hounds? Even fully point sinked, three Heralds, Skulltaker, and 20 Flesh Hounds is still under 1000 points! In the current top-heavy nature of the game, a death star immune to Psychic powers, and full of high strength attacks isn't something to shake deny.
You don't have to go to extreme though for skull taking beat downs, a few Heralds and 15 dogs also works just fine. Then there is the other more exotic option: Bloodcrushers. This for all those Khorne players stuck with Bloodcrushers collecting dust. Instead of Skulltaker being a wound taker, have Bloodcrushers soak up the fire. I know using 45 point models as ablative wounds doesn't sound very appealing, but Bloodcrushers do provide something Flesh Hounds do not: Banner of BloodA banner of blood is an Icon of Chaos. Once per game the unit bearing the banner of blood can charge 6+D6. Declare you are using the banner of blood before the distance is rolled..
In a world full of random charges having at least some sense of security isn't a bad idea. Since most armies these days don't have much S8 weapons, having Bloodcursher soak some damage isn't as terrible as it may seem.
Still, Skulltaker and Flesh Hounds are a more natural fit, even if you just want Skulltaker to take Instant Death hits away from Flesh Hounds. Skulltaker does really need friends though to succeed he cannot do it alone, with uber Chapter Masters and such, his skull taking could be quite limited.
-- Skulltaker Sample Lists--
A Word about Allies
Skulltaker, because of the invest you must make in other units, isn't a great choice. As a secondary detachment you cannot take four Heralds leaving you with a unit without buddies to protect him. Skulltaker relies on joining other units, so stick with Chaos Daemons as primary detachment if you want to get the most use out of him.
Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any circumstance.
Overall, Skulltaker is very niche. His profile is amazing, but with only a AP3 weapon makes him very wanting. The fact Skulltaker has 3+ armour adds more salt to the wounds left by the gutting of Bloodcrushers in this edition. Just remember, at 145 you still get a lot, but just not enough if you can afford to take another Monstrous Creature instead.
It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.
For tactical articles feel free to email me to continue the discussion or if you discover an inaccurate interpretations of the rules-- edits will be made accordingly.
Also check out other articles in this series...
- Chaos Space Marine Tactica Link Page
- Chaos Daemons Impressions
- Breaking Down Chaos Daemons
- Bloodletters of Khorne Review
- Pink Horrors of Tzeentch Review
- Plaguebearers of Nurgle Review
- Deamonettes of Slaanesh Review
- Bloodcrushers of Khorne Review
- Flamers of Tzeentch Review
- Beasts of Nurgle Review
- Fiends of Slaanesh Review
- Flesh Hounds of Khorne Review
- Screamers of Tzeentch Review
- Plague Drones of Nurgle Review
- Chaos Furies Review
- Seekers of Slannesh Review
- Soul Grinder Review
- Skull Cannon of Khorne Review
- Nurglings Review
- Skarbrand Review
- Kairos Fateweaver Review
- Ku'Gath the Plaguefather Review
- Bloodthirster Review
- Lord of Change Review
- Great Unclean One Review
- Keeper of Secrets Review
- Daemon Prince Review
- Skulltaker Review
- The Changling Review
- The Blue Scribes Review
- Epidemius Review
- The Masque Review
- Herald of Khorne Review
- Herald of Tzeentch Review
- Herald of Nurgle Review
- Herald of Slaanesh Review
- Exalted, Seeker, Hellflayer Chariots of Slaanesh Review
- Burning Chariot of Tzeentch Review
- A Look Back and Final Chaos Codex Daemons Breakdown