Craftworlds Codex Review: HQs: Karandras

At once the least interesting and most wacky of the Phoenix Lords, Karandras. How many characters in the game do you know that can make twelve attacks in a single turn? Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

Karandras, the Shadow Hunter, is not actually the original Phoenix Lord of the Striking Scorpions shrine. That honor instead goes to Arhra, the Father of Scorpions- but dark desires burned within Arhra and eventually he gave in to the murderous taint of Chaos, threatening to drag his whole aspect down with him as he went. Karandras alone was talented enough to stand against him in a days-long duel through the remnants of Craftworld Zandros, the two of them striking and feinting through the shadows endlessly. It is said that only one walked away from that battle with their soul intact, though rumors persist that Arhra somehow escaped and continues his dark teachings somewhere. The new Phoenix Lord, for his part, speaks few words of anything about his past and nothing of the duel with his old mentor; instead, he lets his teachings of the hunter’s patience speak for him.

Karandras has a statline that comes in as pretty alright- not exceptional, but more or less where we would expect from a character of his cost. Strength and toughness four are high for an Eldar, but average for everyone else (and in particular for a Phoenix Lord.) Six wounds and a 2+ save give him pretty decent protection, and four attacks with weapon skill and ballistic skill 2+ means that he outputs fairly decent damage. At 150pts he is one of the more expensive Phoenix Lords, however.

Special Rules and Wargear

Like all Craftworld HQ models he comes with the Ancient Doom and Battle Focus rules- both reasonably useful, though neither is a blowout. More importantly, he comes with the standard rules of his aspect- Master of Stealth lets him deploy into reserve and arrive anywhere that is more than 9″ from the enemy, while Shadow Strike gives him +1 to hit against targets that are in cover. This might seem redundant with WS/BS2+, but it turns out to actually be pretty good when you can trigger it due to his aura; Death by a Thousand Stings gives him (and any Scorpion unit within 6″) an extra attack anytime they roll a ‘6’ to hit- and note that this effectively means 5+ when combined with Shadow Strike, so going after units in cover can be quite deadly.

He also has his helm, the Scorpion’s Bite, which gets to roll four dice at the start of every fight phase (before any combats are resolved) and every 5+ deals a mortal wound to an infantry unit within 1″ of him. More free kills is always a good thing, and getting to bypass the defenses of tough characters (e.g. a Captain with Shield Eternal) can be pretty big. And sometimes you’ll just go hog wild with it and kill four models, which is pretty terrifying. Note that the Bite is not a melee attack and does not roll to hit, so it won’t benefit from Shadow Strike, but also ignores many types of defensive abilities.

Karandras’s armament is surprisingly mundane, but it still does the job more than well enough. He comes with exactly the same kit as a standard Striking Scorpion exarch- Plasma Grenades (d6 shots, S4 AP-1) give him a reasonable close-in option along with the shooting mode on his claw, which is exactly like a Shuriken Catapult. He has a Scorpion Chainsword that you will never use, as it is strictly worse than his Scorpion’s Claw (Sx2 AP-3 DmgD3.) With his improved statline his Claw swings exactly like a Power Fist, but without the hit penalty- and combined with his potential to throw out a large number of attacks, that is a pretty dangerous combo.

Uses

Karandras, as one of the more expensive Phoenix Lords, really needs to justify his cost. His own gear and statline, while more than acceptable, are not game-changers; four attacks with a Power Fist is not going to blow your opponents away. To get value out of him, you’re going to have to not only make use of his abilities for his own sake, but also for those of any Striking Scorpion units you bring alongside him- and you definitely are going to need to bring those units or else he just won’t stand out.

The big advantage of Karandras is that he has a strong melee weapon (hitting a bit more often than a Captain’s Power Fist, assuming no other buffs) that can randomly get some bonus hits. And by the same token, while his Scorpion’s Bite won’t typically do a ton, it’s well within the realm of likelihood for it to do two (or occasionally even three) mortal wounds to a target, which suddenly starts looking like a lot. Straight by the numbers he is not amazingly impressive, but he has the potential to at any time go really nutty and drop a huge pile of damage onto a target.

This goes double- literally- for any Striking Scorpions he accompanies and in particular the exarch of the squad. His aura will affect all of the normal models in the squad, giving you some more S4 attacks to chop up any randos nearby, but the real gold is on the exarch carrying the Scorpion’s Claw. Scorpion Exarchs have the Sustained Assault ability, which grants another melee attack on any 6+ to hit; since it has a different name than Death By a Thousand Stings, the two abilities will stack with each other and each roll of 6+ to hit grants them two attacks. This means that a Scorpion Exarch has the potential to get up to nine swings in a single combat phase, though this is a pretty impossible occurrence… at least under normal circumstances.

But you don’t need to fight under normal circumstances, either with Karandras or with his friends. Any time you attack a target in cover you gain +1 to your hit rolls, which is worthless in terms of actually getting hits (since you’re already hitting on a 2+), but will double the chances of getting extra attacks from your abilities. Whole units being in cover can be rather a coin flip in many cases, but we should take special note of characters here- all they have to do is touch cover and suddenly Karandras is twice as good at multipunching them, a mistake many opponents can easily make. We can also create such bonuses artificially through the Enhance spell, which adds +1 to our hit rolls- normally just a useful bonus, but able to generate some insane numbers of swings when we set things up properly. And don’t forget throwing in the Supreme Disdain stratagem, which also triggers extra attacks on sixes- with a full suite going at once, you could be looking at every 4+ on the dice generating two free attacks (three on the exarch), or a very plausible result of 45 hits on any target from a full squad of Scorpions.

So that’s where you’re getting your real money on Karandras- not from his own attacks (which, though hardly trivial, are probably not going to win any games) but by buffing a squad or three of nearby Scorpions into absurdity. And fortunately for this plan, both Karandras and the Scorpions are capable of popping up anywhere on the board to assassinate something inconvenient to you. The Scorpions themselves will probably handle any Sv3+ or worse infantry you find laying around, while Karandras can go after characters, vehicles, and other “tough” targets that the Scorpions are generally mediocre at dealing with; by covering each others’ weaknesses in this way as well as sharing the aura, the two units end up complementing each other quite well.

Countering

The best way to stop Karandras is to break his synergies with the Scorpions- on his own, he’s not that hard to bring down with a good assault character or just some sustained shooting. Try and shut down the Enhance to prevent your opponent from getting that +1 to hit and avoid putting your units in cover to avoid the other +1; when they’re mostly only making their normal complement of attacks at normal dice rolls, neither unit is particularly terrifying. Like many of the other Phoenix Lords, Karandras is a bit of glass cannon and while he can dish out a lot of hurt, he lacks an invulnerable save or any other form of protection to keep him alive once he comes under attack.

Final Thoughts

Although Karandras isn’t a top-tier unit, he is one of those units that will occasionally do something completely absurd like “solo an Imperial Knight on his own in a single turn.” I wouldn’t recommend that you bring him to your next GT hoping for a victory, but if what you want is bizarre stories out of the game, Special K here is definitely your man. He’s not so expensive that you have to cripple your army to make use of him, even with his accompaniment; perhaps give him a try sometime.

As always, remember that you can buy wargaming supplies at great discounts every day at the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

 

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

13 Responses to “Craftworlds Codex Review: HQs: Karandras”

  1. Anggul April 4, 2018 1:16 am #

    Ooh boy, I think I need to try this out, enhance warlock and all.

    The only thing putting me off is his lack of invulnerable save.

    • Dakkath April 4, 2018 2:42 am #

      To be fair with the 8th ed ap system a 2+ and a 5++ are the exact same vs an ap-3 attack.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 4, 2018 8:46 am #

        Exactly. People get stuck on the no invul save but it honestly doesn’t matter all that often.

  2. Cavalier April 4, 2018 2:49 am #

    Great article AP. Wow… as a guy who loves Striking Scorpions this certainly opened my eyes to some potential. I’m more of a pickup guy/garage hammer dude and this sounds something worth mastering. I play tons of IG so there is a lot of infantry on the board… and I’ve got 2×10 Striking Scorpions I’ve been dying to put back on the table…. Think I may need to the Big Scorp into a game soon. Didn’t quite realize how all those bonuses stacked. Really well written article AP. Thanks

    • abusepuppy April 4, 2018 8:12 am #

      I thought there might be some people who were happy to see this. It’s certainly no tournament-winner, but it can be a lot of fun in more casual games I think and it does make Karandaras and his buddies feel a lot more the way they should to most infantry units- just absolute buzzsaws that will go through anything in front of them.

  3. Zool April 4, 2018 7:50 am #

    Those extra atacks need to hit again. Its not so great in real game as it sounds. They should change the wording to make 2 hits with each hit on 6+ instead gaining another roll. They already have a nerfed chainsword with 1 atack 🙁 .

    And the 6″ buff range is problem too. After deepstrike it happens his single charge roll fails and my saim hann scorpions manage the charge.
    If his weak buff works only on scorpions than they could make it 12″ range.

    • abusepuppy April 4, 2018 8:11 am #

      I mean, yeah, they do have to roll to hit, but since you’re hitting on 2s (and it’s fairly trivial to get reroll 1s from an Autarch or psychic power), you should be landing the vast majority of your attacks.

      Note that though the Scorpion Chainsword does not give +1 Attack the way Imperial ones do, Scorpions themselves gained an attack (up to a base of two), whereas units like Assault Marines did not. This works out significantly in the Scorpions’ favor, as it means the Exarch ends up being a lot more intimidating with whatever weapon you give him.

      The 6″ range can definitely be an issue, but you’re never required to move models forward during a charge move, so it’s quite easy to ensure you stay within range even if Karandras fails his assault. I usually have my Scorpions pop up somewhere “safe” and try for a charge the following turn anyways.

    • B3N April 4, 2018 3:41 pm #

      Scorpion chainswords are also +1S

  4. Faitherun April 4, 2018 8:54 am #

    The only thing I’d add is to combo this with the supreme disdain strat… Going from memory, but generating extra attacks on a 4+ should be nice when combo’s with enhance

    • abusepuppy April 4, 2018 9:26 am #

      Yeah, I called out the stratagem in the article because it pairs really well with the whole idea.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 4, 2018 9:43 am #

        Yeah, it sure does. Howling Banshees love it and the +1 to hit power as well. Eldar have so many good combos that don’t see the light of day as they tend to get passed up for the OTHER awesome combos that are more obvious, lol.

        • Zool April 4, 2018 1:30 pm #

          U can buff up eldar infantry/bikes to extreme with enough warlocks/spiritseer/farseer. The thing is OTHER stronger units will be even better with those buffs. Its not about ignoring them.
          I never buffed my scorpions because i rather cast all possible spells and stratagems on shining spears or deepstriking wraithswords.

  5. NinetyNineNo April 4, 2018 7:42 pm #

    “How many characters in the game do you know that can make twelve attacks in a single turn?”

    Off the top of my head, Kharn, Saint Celestine (AoF), Abaddon (especially versus Imperials), Dante/Valoris and other BA and Custodes versus Black Legion with their stratagem, Old One Eye rolling hot…

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