Welcome back to another Age of Sigmar tactics article!
I’m Anvil, and today, we’re going to be wrapping up the rest of the units from the Stormcast Eternals battletome, the ones that were not found in the starter kit. Despite the Extremis Chamber being open now with those dracoth cavalry units, they will wait another day, as I want to finish up the initial releases of the SEs and move on to other armies for overview. Be sure to check out other great articles like this one in the Tactics Corner!
Primary: Striker, Tech
Decimators strike fear into the hearts of their foes, clearing through waves of enemies much like the farmer hacks through a field of wheat. Just like their other paladin brothers, they have the slow 4” Movement, 4+ Save, 7 Bravery, and 3 Wounds each. Unlike Retributors, who are effective against any unit composition, Decimators specialize in taking on hordes of enemies. The Thunderaxe is a unique weapon, with a profile of [2”/X/3+/3+/-1/1] (the Decimator-Prime adds 1 to the To Wound roll), where X equals the number of enemy models within the range of the Decimator. The smaller the bases of the enemy unit, the stronger they become. From Chaos Warriors, to Skaven, to Vulkite Berzerkers, to Skeletons, etc, anything that can pile-in big numbers to increase their number of attacks. It’s quite possible to get 5-7 attacks with each axe-wielding Decimator, essentially turning them into blenders. However, the easiest way to counter this is to throw low model count units with high wounds, units consisting of models with large bases, or single models at them, like Monsters, Morghasts, Heroes, etc.
The Grim Harvester compliments their anti-horde role, as they help negate the Bravery bonus that such units would normally get from 10+ models. Any units within 6” of them add 2 to their Battleshock rolls, which helps to wipe out any unit that was too large to take on with just attacks. Forcing effective Battleshock tests is tough to pull off, as it usually requires inflicting a lot of damage to the unit and hoping they don’t have high Bravery (like Chaos Daemons or Undead tend to have) or a buff placed on them like Inspiring Bravery to completely ignore it. But Grim Harvester, in combination with their Thunderaxe, can get around this, and to deadly effect. For every model that’s removed due to Battleshock, you essentially are ignoring armor saves, special rules that ignore wounds on a die roll, X wounds on the model, etc.
Finally, Decimators have the option to take Starsoul Maces, which just deal D3 mortal wounds in combat. Obviously, it is wasted by equipping the Decimator-Prime since there is no To Wound roll for it. You can equip up to two of them for each five in a unit, but the decision is really up to you, depending on your army composition and your local meta. Two maces allow you to still be competent against any of the counters that were mentioned earlier, but makes them less effective against hordes. All axes would fully emphasize their Tech role on the battlefield, and one mace is a balance between the two. It’s not a clear-cut decision, but I know for my army, I would take all axes, as I have enough tools and ranged units to help the Decimators get out of combat quickly with Monsters and Heroes.
Primary: Striker, Tech; Secondary: Tank
Protectors are the other Tech option for Paladins. Sporting the same profile as the Retributors and Decimators, they differentiate themselves with their Stormstrike Glaives. These weapons have a rather impressive statline [3”/3/3+/3+/-1/1], with the Protector-Prime having 4 attacks instead. The 3” range makes them very good at making sure everyone gets to attack in combat, reaching beyond anyone in front, which is something that Retributors often struggle with after pile-ins. They also can wield up to two Starsoul Maces per 5 models, but unlike Decimators, you generally want to have at least one in the group to help deal consistent wounds in combat. However, unlike their axe-wielding brothers, they have rules to make them fill two different roles: Monster Hunters, and Bodyguards.
Deathstrike is a powerful ability that will shred any Monster that gets close enough. On any wound roll result of 6 or higher, the attack will have a Damage value of D6 instead of 1 if the target is a Monster. Getting bonuses to the To Wound rolls is very rare for SEs, so you will most likely just have to rely on some luck. Fortunately, with their high number of attacks and reliable accuracy, it’s not uncommon to land multiple 6s, Combine that with the Rend -1, and you’ll likely get at least one of those attacks through, and have the chance of inflicting very heavy damage. It’s a lot of “ifs”, but the weight-of-dice factor really does help. A lucky roll of 6 damage will take out about half of total wounds of most Monsters. Combined with Starsoul Maces and some of the other attacks at least dealing 1 damage each, and you can easily take out a Greater Daemon, Carnasaur, or any other similar model in one round of combat.
Their Storm-Shield ability fits them into the role of a bodyguard for your other units and Heroes. Any missile attack that targets them or have to go through them to reach a friendly unit subtracts 1 from their To Hit rolls. From the wording of the rule, I don’t think having several “layers” of Protectors will negate a ranged attack if targeting someone through them. Still, anything to make your Hero more survivable to make it to the end of the battle is vital. I prefer to form a semicircle around whomever I want protected, just in case during the battle, a ranged unit is able to move far enough to one side or another that it would be able to draw line of sight unimpeded if the Protectors were set up in a straight line. As far as who they should escort, I personally choose slower Heroes, like the Lord-Celestant on foot, Lord-Castellant, etc. Probably my favorite, though, is the Lord-Relictor, as he matches their speed, and the fact that their 3 Wounds each will make better use of his Healing Storm prayer. Once in range of a Monster, the Lord-Relictor can strike it with Lightning Storm, making your Protectors much more survivable in case they fail to kill it in one turn. If you face against a lot of shooting or Monsters, Protectors will be a no-brainer to include in your army.
A bread-and-butter unit, Judicators provide the majority of your range support. They have a profile that matches the other basic infantry of the SEs, the Liberator: 5” Movement, 4+ Save, Bravery 6, 2 Wounds. You have a choice of either equipping the unit with Skybolt Bows [24”|1|3+|3+|-1|1] or Boltstorm Crossbows [12”|2|3+|4+|-|1], with the Judicator-Prime hitting on a 2+ instead of a 3+. Skybolt Bows have been working fantastically for me, keeping them just far enough out of harm’s reach most of the game, while also targeting the larger, more heavily armored targets. When getting your first squad of Judicators built, I would highly suggest equipping them with bows. However, the crossbows are not a bad choice, being better at taking on lower-armored units through sheer weight-of-dice with their Rapid Fire ability, which increases the number of attacks by 1 if they did not move in the movement phase. They are riskier to play due to their short range, but they can be effective when they march behind another unit. I like pairing them up with Liberators, especially with shields. Such a setup will allow for the Liberators to survive in combat long enough for the Judicators to launch a massive volley into the enemy’s lines. But Crossbows are ideal when you are playing on the defensive in battleplans, since you’ll be moving very little and the enemy will be coming to you. Since it’s possible for some setups to have your opponent within charge distance on the first turn, the crossbows will probably be more effective than the bows. To sum it up, Skybolt Bows tend to be better on the offensive, while Stormbolt Crossbows are better on the defensive.
The Judicators have two options for special weapons: the Shockbolt Bow [24”|1|3+|3+|-1|1], and the Thunderbolt Crossbow. The Shockbolt Bow is very powerful in the hands of the accurate Judicator-Prime, because when you land a hit with it, you roll a die and instead score that many hits. This brings a much needed amount of extra damage that the bows sorely lack. They are reliable, but their max damage output is rather low. The Thunderbolt Crossbow, on the other hand, is an interesting weapon. You choose a unit within 18” of it and roll a die, subtracting 1 from the roll if the target is a Monster. If you roll equal to or under the number of models in that unit, they take D3 mortal wounds, which makes it mostly ideal against larger squads. It’s a good complement to the crossbows because of their lack of rending. Even though their is no restriction from you taking the Thunderbolt Crossbow with a unit with bows, or the Shockbolt Bow with a unit of crossbows, I suggest you don’t since there’s not a lot of synergy with either combination. I feel that they’re intended to make up for any weaknesses that the rest of the unit would have.
Prosecutors with Stormcall Javelins
Primary: Flanking, Striker; Secondary:Tank
We’ve already covered the Prosecutors with Celestial Hammers in Part 1 of this article and the profile is exactly the same as them, along with the Heralds of Righteousness and Sigmarite Shields abilities, so I won’t go into deep detail about them. The main differences are that the Prosecutor-Prime makes 2 attacks in the shooting phase instead of an additional attack in the combat phase, and that they are equipped with Stormcall Javelins and shields (this time, you cannot remove the shield). Stormcall Javelins are designed for ranged combat [18”|1|3+|3+|-|1], with the Damage value increased to 2 if the target is 9″ or further away. Their melee profile becomes a 4+/4+ to hit and to wound, making it preferable to strike from a distance. Like the Knight-Venator, their mobility coupled with their ranged attacks makes them pretty good at sniping even backfield targets, or targets that try to hide out of line-of-sight. Ideally, you want to target units that have a low save value to stack the odds in your favor of dealing decent damage. You can also have a Stormsurge Trident for every 3 models in the group, which should be given to the Prosecutor-Prime. It has the same profile as the Stormcall Javelin, but with one additional point of Damage without the range requirement, and a -1 Rend tacked on.
Since they are armed with a shield, they can zoom in and perform the duties of a Tank when absolutely necessary, or take care of area-denial like most Flanking units would. But when you combine all of their stats and abilities together, they are best at dealing with enemy ranged units. Most ranged units have low armor saves, relying on cover and distance to keep them safe. With these guys, you can harass them and get the first shots in with their 30” threat range, followed by a charge to tie them up a bit more, or even inflicting enough wounds to force Battleshock losses.
Primary: Flanking; Secondary: Tech
The Gryph-hound is a rather interesting unit to make use of. Unlike the rest of the Stormcast Eternals, it does not have any Save whatsoever. Because of that, there’s rarely any reason for it to be in cover or gain save bonuses. They have the option of being fielded in groups of more than one, but that will be extremely rare to encounter as the only ways to do that is for someone to get a bunch of Lord-Castellants, or looking for trades or ebay. Their statline is not that impressive, except for the 9” Movement. Their Beaks and Claws have the exact same weapon profile as swords on Liberators, but performs 4 attacks instead of 2 if within 3” of a Lord-Castellant. It’s Darting Attacks ability allows it to have the chance of getting out of combat as soon as it finishes attacking, moving up to D6” away from the enemy unit. You have a 50% of making it out of there without being attacked, but it’s honestly not that impressive from my experience.
The Gryph-hound’s main functions are to counter units that try to appear on your flanks or your back field, and area denial. It’s Warning Cry is a good counter to anyone that uses Realmgates to attack you from behind, as it’s one of the few abilities out there that allows players to place models less than 9” from enemy models. If they are placed within 10” of the Gryph-hound, then any friendly unit within 2D6” can make a free ranged attack against that unit. This is not limited to just SEs, so any ally you include can perform this as well. It’s also not limited to once per turn, making it that much more effective. However, it’s something easy to get around, as your opponent who is aware of this ability will just place them somewhere else in your backfield. Still, it’s a deterrent from them trying to assault your Judicators or other ranged units.
What I use it for mostly, though, is to slow down enemy forces. Almost every game, my opponents will ignore it because of how squishy it is and that it won’t deal much damage, if any. So instead, I perform Runs all day, and placing it just outside of 3” of the target I want to slow down. Because of the movement rule stating that you cannot move within 3” of an enemy unit, it effectively creates a 7” diameter bubble they either have to move around, or spend a turn killing the Gryph-hound. My opponents have attempted to use Arcane Missile on it, hoping to roll high enough to inflict 3 mortal wounds on it, only to come up short. Not only did they waste a spell on it, but the Gryph-hound survived to deny that area. It has been very effective in funneling those models to a location they don’t want to be in that turn. This is a tactic you can use with other Flanking units as well, but I made special note of it here because while those Flanking units are most likely to get charged or shot at, the Gryph-hound is not as tempting of a target to address until it’s too late.
Thanks everyone for reading this article! I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to the final two parts of the Stormcast Eternals review, which will be covering the majority of the Battalion Warscrolls. Take care!