Khorne Daemonkin Review: HQ: Skulltaker

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Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the something, something (I’m too pumped up to care about how the chant ends, it’s FAR TOO AWESOME!!)!!

You all know the feeling, when you’re out for blood and you end up stumbling home with the skull of a small animal as a trophy?… No?… Just me, then? Nevermind… (maybe I should seek help…) Anyways, there is little in the grim dark future that marvels collecting the skulls of your enemies… and this guy is so good at it.. he sewed himself a cape!… Damn, that’s manly… Today, we are going to talk about the manliest cape tailor in all of the warp… the blood thirsty Skulltaker! For more awesome articles by less unhinged authors than I, don’t pass up Tactics Corner!

Khorne is my Co-Pilot

Alright, ladies and gents. If you’ve read past my little break down up top where I reveal some incriminating evidence about myself and a night I barely remember, don’t worry… there will be plenty more of that… as it says above… Khorne is my Co-Pilot. Today’s subject is Khorne’s very trusted and worthy executioner, the Skulltaker (Yeah, that’s the best job title ever). There is definitely something to be said about perusing your dream and doing what you love, much like Reece and Franky with Frontline gaming… just more gruesome decapitations and less gaming paraphernalia. As I do with all of my articles, I think it’s best to break down all of the Skulltakers special rules and wargear, talk about their overall effectiveness and then give some insight on how you use this crazy son-of-a-bitch. Let’s rock and roll.

Wargear/Artifacts of Slaughter:

  • Cloak of Skulls (Cape of skulls he made himself… pinnacle of awesome and we’re just getting starting)
  • The Slayer Sword (Bestowed upon him by the band Slayer, it doubles as a guitar that only rips sweet solos)

Warlord Trait/Locus of Khorne:

  • Lesser Locus of Abjuration (Adamantium Will, never leave home without it)
  • Favoured of Khorne (I don’t think it’ll happen often, but this guy is a boss at winning challenges, he is Khorne’s favorite after all)

Special Rules:

  • Blood for the Blood God! (This rule is the bloodiest rule that exists – When people ask you to read them this rule, remember to yell it at them, it’s what GW would have wanted)
  • Daemon of Khorne/Deep Strike/Independent Character (All of this is awesome, I’ll get into it later)
  • Fearless (You’re Khorne’s favorite… you had better be fearless)
  • Skulls for the Skull Throne! (Challenge issued… challenge accepted… – When people ask you to read them this rule, remember to yell it at them, it’s what GW would have wanted)

The more and more I sit and read about Khorne and write about the units in this codex… the more awesome it all is, the KDK codex is like one big death metal concert: guitar solos, gruesome displays of violence, everybody has an axe (oh snap!), the truth of the matter is… Khorne is putting a band together and the Skulltaker is rocking lead guitar. Let’s see how awesome it really is!


Head-Bangers Paradise

I’m going to break down each of his rules into two categories, so we can see exactly what about the Skulltaker is “Good”, and what could be labelled as “Just Okay”.

  • Cloak of Skulls (Good): His homemade rock star outfit gives him a 3+ Armor save AND Eternal Warrior… which is a huge deal, he’s toughness 4 and a lucky Krak Missile could end his guitar solo a few bars early, if you get my drift. The great thing about this added durability is that you can feel free to play him a little more aggressively, knowing he has a good chance of living through a few rounds of close combat, especially because you have to issue and accept challenges with Skulls for the Skull Throne.
  • The Slayer Sword (Good): This sword is really, really hard core. The business end of this thing is an AP 3, soul blazing, melee weapon that inflicts Instant Death on to wound rolls of 6. Though rolling that 6 is nothing you should count on happening, the true power of this ability comes from asking your opponent one question: “Do you feel lucky?” If your opponent has any valuable characters in combat, they will have to think long and hard if they want to risk your Initiative 9 daemon rolling hot with his death knife.

The Skulltaker’s wargear is no joke; both his armor and his weapon equips him for some serious business, along with him having the offensive stats of a greater daemon (WS, BS, and Initiative 9), he is ready to deliver a serious, face melting, slaughter solo. The draw back to his load out of weapons is the lacking of a ranged weapon. I know that KDK rarely has any ranged weapons, but that is easily supplemented by speed, the Skulltaker cannot be put on a bike or ride a Juggernaut, his pitiful 6″ movement is what you’re left to work with, not the greatest.

  •  Lesser Locus of Abjuration/Favoured of Khorne (Just Okay): Even though the Adamantium Will, granted by the Lesser Locus, is really good when your opponent is trying to shut down your rock opera with psychic powers, it just doesn’t come into play enough for us to give it a tremendous amount of focus when we discuss the overall dataslate. Additionally, the Favoured of Khorne Warlord Trait is really good in particular situations. Ultimately, the stars shouldn’t have to align for you to get the most out of one of your character units, especially the one you’ve selected to be your Warlord.
  • Blood for the Blood God!/Skulls for the Skull Throne! (Good): Blood for the Blood God! is on of the gnarliest, hard rockiest rules in the entire KDK book. Any time you get the chance to collect points and summon more daemons, give everyone FNP, or whatever you end up doing with it… it is fantastic. Skulls for the Skull Throne! is a little bit more of a double edged sword… it will ultimately come down to “do you actually want to challenge whatever it is that you’re fighting?” Sometimes, the answer is “yes”… but other times, the answer is “hell no”, there is a fine line between “yes” and “hell no” and honestly, the line for Skulltaker is fighting an opposing character that has a 2+ save. Due to the fact that his weapon is only AP 3, fighting an opponent with terminator armor (or equivalent) can be really sketchy; even though he will almost always strike first, your chances of the opposing character failing that save are very low.
  • Fearless (Good): Fearless is awesome, it’s worth it to point out that he has Fearless instead of Daemonic Instability… leaps and bounds better. No more leadership checks after combat, Skulltaker can just sit there and let the combat come to a bloody end. Without Daemonic Instability, he can now join up with his Marine buddies and help them out on the Leadership side of things. No more frightened Chaos Marines for you while he’s around.
  • Daemon of Khorne/Deep Strike/Independent Character (Good): All of this stuff is pretty basic, the Skulltaker being a Daemon of Khorne is really nice because of the Furious Charge. Strength 6 AP 3 attacks on the first round of combat is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also awesome that he is given delivery options with Deep Strike (though I’m not sure that is the best way for him to get into the thick of things), and being an independent character gives you options on where and how to integrate him into your army.

Now that we’ve laid everything out, it’s pretty clear that the Skulltaker has a lot to offer. Plus… he has a cape MADE OF SKULLS! That’s probably the most awesome thing that I have ever seen! Seriously… there is that…

and this… (Lumberjack Assaulting the North Pole)


Both are valid options for the most awesome thing ever… Anyway’s, back to it. How are we supposed to get him on the table? He isn’t the fastest unit in the codex and will struggle to keep up with Jugger-lords and Khorne dogs, so how can we make him live up to being as awesome as a Lumberjack punching Santa in the face? Let’s find out!

Living the Rock Star Life

There are a few ways to run the Skulltaker and have him be a successful. For the sake of time, I am going to discuss two in this article, but feel free to post up some of your strategies below in the comments section! The first strategy I’m going to talk about is the more straight forward approach, I’m going to call it the “Hack n’ Slash” strategy. The second approach I’m going to touch on is a little different and less aggressive but can really catch an opponent off guard when it happens. I am going to call the second strategy the “Stand n’ Shoot” strategy.

  • Hack n’ Slash: The premise of this strategy is really straight forward, shove him up someone’s nose. Challenge everything that you can and try your best to assault anything you think you can kill quickly, you have to wrack up those crucial Blood Tithe Points. With this particular strategy, I would always suggest using him in either the Slaughtercult or Charnel Cohort formations. The Slaughtercult’s special rules are really written to optimize the Blood for the Blood God! special rule and reward a high turnover of units. With the Charnel Cohort (which is my personal favorite of the two), you can put the Skulltaker in a unit of Bloodletters and Deep Strike the whole formation behind enemy lines (with minimal scatter). Once you’re back there… just go nuts, your opponent won’t have the best time dealing with how much of that formation comes in at once, the unfortunate thing is that you can’t assault on the turn you arrive, so you had better have some Khorne dogs and bikers on the front lines putting pressure on your opponent while your Deep Striking forces get ready for the turn after their arrival.
  • Stand n’Shoot: Okay, this sounds weird, I know… but roll with me here. I have tried it out a little and when the mood strikes, this strategy can be really amusing and interestingly effective. If you run a Combined Arms Detachment in conjunction with a Bloodhost, or even just on its own, here is what you do: take a Plasma Obliterator. I know that it is expensive, but you actually have one of the best shooting models in your entire army that can easily man the gun. With the Skulltaker’s Ballistic Skill of 9, you can take a huge 7″ template and roast enemies with a Strength 7, AP 2 blast that will NEVER MISS thanks to his crazy Ballistic Skill. Additionally, the template is so large that you could have the ability to smoke multiple units at once, damage multiple vehicles, and give yourself a ranged threat that your opponent never really expected. Plus, because he has Blood for the Blood God!, you could really start wracking up a ton of points using him to shoot the gun. It’s a big points investment, however you now give your opponent a difficult choice… do they shoot this building sitting at the opposite end of the table?… or do they deal with your incredibly quick moving and deep striking daemons? It’s an interesting way to play him, I suggest you give it a try once or twice, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Wanna-be Rock Star

As I’ve mentioned a few times through the article, the biggest draw back for the Skulltaker is his transportation issues. Deep Strike can be unreliable at times and it prevents him from assaulting for at least two turns of the game. He is unable to take a bike or a Juggernaut which makes him difficult to choose over a Chaos Lord with tons of different options (most of which are awesome). His price is fine, only 100pts for a pretty bitchin’ close combat unit, but when you start to compare him in the HQ slot to a Chaos Lord or a Bloodthirster… he just doesn’t stack up. Ultimately, there are better options.

Shred Me a Face Melting Solo

I would love to see this awesome model make a real appearance on the top tables of 40k tournaments… and the only way he is going to get there is if we all try our very best to pioneer new ways to use him. As I do with all of my articles, I challenge you all to find a new way to use the Skulltaker that makes him the all-star in your army. Share your discoveries below, let’s give this rock star an awesome encore and bask in how gnarly and hard core he is. Can we make it happen? or am I just unhinged? If you want to be unhinged like me and give it a shot, Frontline Gaming offers up to 20% off on Games Workshop product!

Scuba Steve, Signing Out!

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6 years ago

He really needs the option for a Juggernaut that he has in the CD Dex. Not just for the mobility, but also because the extra Wound is a really big deal, especially as one of the few Models around these days with Eternal Warrior.

6 years ago

It def sucks that a plain herald can take a juggernaut and pay for a lesser reward to get the ap 2 decapitating axe. Skull taker in a deep striking blob of blood letters would be good, but they should have at least given him rending since he is supposed to be Khornes favored daemon. In all honesty, a herald jug with fury and another with wrath and Crimson crown as warlord in a blob squad would be much stronger (and way more than double the point cost)

6 years ago
Reply to  Dbiesto

Being AP3 and stuck at 6″ movement are both huge downers for Skulltaker, yeah. He pays an awful lot for having such a shitty warlord trait and middling statline. He’s great in a fight against chump-tier characters, but if someone rolls up with Chapter Smasher or anything on a Thunderwolf or a Wraithknight or any other “real” melee unit, he will go down in short order.

6 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

Even if he just had rending so his decapitating blows can get through 2+ armour he would be better. Still not able to stand up to chapter masters because shield eternal/gorgon’s chain, but better.

It would also be nice if Khorne’s lesser locus wasn’t absolute arse.

6 years ago


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