A Case for Kabal of the Flayed Skull Pt. 1

As soon as I received my first glimpse of the Drukhari Codex in playtesting, Flayed Skull leaped out at me as a fantastic set of tools with somewhat shocking set of special rules that fuel all the core choices in a Drukhari army. In this article I’m going to detail the many reasons it is my go-to choice for my Drukhari.

Kabal Obsession

Add 3” to the Move characteristic of all models with this obsession that can Fly (if such a model has a min/max Move characteristic, only add 3” to max). In addition, enemy units do not receive the benefit to their saving throws for being in Cover for attacks made by models with this Obsession that can Fly, or that are embarked upon a Transport that can Fly. Re-Roll hit rolls of 1 for such units when attacking with Rapid Fire weapons.

So wow, there is a lot there. This Kabal has the most special rules for any of the sub-faction in the dex and they are all great.

Movement Buff

With exceptional speed from Raiders, Venoms, Razorwings and Void Ravens, this a significant buff. The stand-out here is with Venoms which really work well with the re-roll 1’s for Rapid Fire (effecting both the Warriors with splinter weapons inside, the vehicles splinter cannons or the twin-rifle option). With this Kabal your Venoms are moving 19″ a turn without Advancing and dont have a degrading profile. Whether you play ITC missions, the new Chapter Approved missions, Maelstrom or some combination of them all, this gives you an exceptional tool in any of those arenas. A lightening fast aggressive vehicle that is -1 to hit with a 5++ that ferries your core troop into scoring position, all while touting blistering, reliable, anti-infantry fire power (that ignores cover) as well as getting those tasty anti-tank Blaster shots into range as quickly as possible.

Re-Roll 1’s with Rapid Fire

The added movement is a phenomenal buff unto itself, but the re-roll 1’s on Rapid Fire weapons is also gold. Re-rolling 1’s on the stock weapon for your core troops choice (so long as they are in a Venom or Raider) is fantastic especially considering they wound anything on a 4+. They way it jives with the Venom’s Splinter Cannons or optional Twin-Splinter Rifles is just instant synergy. At 12″ you are kicking out 20 shots from each Venom re-rolling 1’s on a weapon that wounds all infantry on a 4+ (everything else on 6’s). Not only that you are moving 19″ a turn like previously stated.

What makes this even more efficient is that this buff is to your core troop choice and a basic transport which makes this faction ideal for Battalion building. So not only are you getting a great scoring option, with very reliable anti-infantry firepower (and optional anti-tank), but you are also building up your Command Points base in the process. But we aint done there! lol

Ignore Cover

Since Chapter Approved’s universal Prepared Positions Strat, the Beta Rules for Bolter Discipline and Vigilus’ Specialist Detachments anything that value of Ignore Cover has dramatically increased. Primaris Space Marines in cover are a nightmare to root out and a man can only get so many dissies in their list. This keeps the infantry of softer armies like Tau, Imperial Guard soft as well. This really increases the value of the stock Splinter Rifle which is such a vital tool for Drukhari, but most especially Flayed Skull with their re-roll 1’s which is the driving force of this subfaction. Also the anti-infantry weaponry on your  weapons on your Razorwings, Venoms etc. who have only minimal AP or none at all really shine as well with this trait. Worth mentioning it keeps those dissies -3 instead of -2 when you absolutely need to kill something in cover with them.

Kabal Specific Stratagem

Use this Stratagem when you select a Kabal of the Flayed Skull unit to shoot with in the Shooting Phase. Until the end of the phase, add 1 to hit rolls made for this unit’ attacks that target units that can fly.

Now compared to Agents of Vect… well there is no real comparison. Agents of Vect is phenomenal. However evaluating the Stratagem in and of itself, its actually very good. When targeting normal flyers this can be there death knell as you negate their -1 completely. Against Alaitoc or certain stratagem buffed Death Guard/Nurgle units, this can reduce a -2 o more down to more reasonable levels. Facing Alaitoc you can bait your opponent into playing Lightening Fast Reactions or a Flyer of lesser significance, then let loose with say a Ravager on the higher priority Flyer knocking down that penalty to hit to a more manageable -1.

Worth mentioning, is that against even units that do not have a penalty to hit such Daemon Princes, Shining Spears, Crisis Suits etc. you can amp up your hit rolls to 2+ and with a Ravager and a nearby Archon you could be hitting on 2’s re-rolling 1’s which is super nice.

If you are feeling extra spicy and have the model this could be brutal with a Tantalus!

Warlord Trait

The Warlord Trait is Famed Savagery which gives you +1 Attack and + 1 Str in any turn in which you charge, were charged or Heroically Intervene.
Both of these really encourage you to make a close-combat themed Archon and since you are naturally re-rolling 1’s on all Rapid Fire weapons for fly units and or units embarked on flying transports it really gives you the luxury to do this.

I love the Famed Savagery Warlord trait and take it every time I make my Flayed Skull Archon the Warlord. Throwing your T3 Warlord into the mix is not always the best idea, but if you wait till your opponents army is sufficiently softened up you can close in with him and say some Incubi (I know not the most competitive choice but solid enough) and do signficant damage especially when you take the Djinn Blade you an additional +1 Str +2 attacks, meaning you are swinging with  8 Attacks, Str 5 AP -3 and D3 Damage which is very potent, especially with a unit of Incubi within your own detachment or Grotesques and/or Wraithblades backing you up from  another detachment.

Like I said its risky, even with a 2++ its not the safest route, but anyone down for a little hero-hammer glory can make a serious go of it with these traits.


The Flayed Skull Relic is called the Obsidian Veil which gives you an Invuln of 4+ after you fail your first Shadow Field save. This is a super nice Relic and really keeps your Archon alive, especially when taking the Famed Savagery warlord trait. The only downside is giving up that tasty, tasty Djinn Blade if you are going for true hero-hammer glory. Really its kind of a toss-up. You want both but can only choose 1. I’d go with whatever suits your playstyle. If you are more of a gambler and super aggressive, take the Djinn Blade. If you are more opportunistic and might have him hanging out granting re-rolls to Ravagers or what have you take the Veil. Or alternatley if you see a TON of T3, say Guardsmen, Tau etc. and you want to take heads, take Obsidian Veil as you can get away with a mere Huskblade or Power Sword.

Part 1 Conclusion

Setting aside the somewhat ancillary benefits of the Warlord Trait and Relic, the core special rules of +3 Movement on Fly units, Ignore Cover + Re-Roll 1’s is an absolutely killer batch of special rules to get with a mere sub-faction.

It all really powers the things that truly define the Drukhari, speed and tons of tons of poison shots, in particular Venom-Spam lists. Not only does this make this particular sub-faction ideal for building up a battalion for purposes of Command Points, but it also gives you aggressive objective takers that have very reliable shooting, that ignores cover all a -1 to hit platform with a 5++ invulnerable save. When taken in numbers this is very efficient investment of resources as you are getting command points, scoring, anti-infantry (and anti-tank if you take lots of blasters)  re-rolling 1’s all over the place and ignoring cover.

The Stratagem also acts as a nice little perk that can help bypass some of those deadly modifiers on Flying units which can really tip the game in your favor in a clutch moment such as going 1st against Alaitoc with Crimson Hunters or Hemlocks.

While there is no denying the power of Agents of Vect, I believe the net benefit of all these special rules outweights the value of Vect. In part 2 of the article I’m going to highlight the values of Venom spam a bit more, synergies between Flayed Skull and other Aeldari detachments and how they set-up Command Point efficiency that can offset the loss of Agents of Vect (although there is nothing stopping you from taking a Black Heart detachment alongside Flayed Skull) especially in a mixed Aeldari force.

If you are interested in more Aeldari discussion check out our podcast: Splintermind for exclusive Drukharii and all things Aeldari news and discussion. If you are interested in following my painting exploits check me out on Instagram! Thanks for reading and stay tuned!


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About Cavalier

Commission Painter for Frontline Gaming + Co-Host of the Splintermind: The Dark Eldar Podcast

7 Responses to “A Case for Kabal of the Flayed Skull Pt. 1”

  1. Liam February 15, 2019 9:18 am #

    Hello Cavalier,

    as always a great read and interesting view on the non PG list ideas. Especially because I agree, that having the benefit of 3″ additional move in combination with the buffs to splinter weapons is a very effective combination.

    If one goes even heavier into the splinter war, do you think raiders with splinter racks would be a viable option?

    Kind regards

    • Cavalier February 15, 2019 10:59 am #

      Hey Liam thanks for the kind words man. I think the Raiders with splinter racks are def. viable… everything is for the most part with Drukhari. Especially if you dont own a lot of Venoms.

      But at the end of the day I think the Venom is the superior choice because its a -1 to hit its cheaper, faster (gets you into blaster range quicker too) and its a -1 to hit platform. It also synergizes really well stuff like Alaitoc and Harlequins to get you a total army wide -1 to hit which I’ll cover in part 2.

      But yes Raiders can def. work and you can get dissies on them too which is nice. But I think Venoms are the better choice IMO

  2. Rathstar February 16, 2019 3:19 pm #

    You make a great case for Flayed Skull. I’m tempted to run my Kabalites as Flayed Skull and add a Black Heart Air Wing to have the best of both worlds.

    • Cavalier February 16, 2019 5:09 pm #

      Thanks Rathstar, glad you liked the article man. Yeah there is certainly nothing stopping you from running both (they are both excellent choices), especially in a pure Drukhari build. Check in next week because I”m going to do a part 2 where I cover the CP efficiency of running Flayed Skull as your only DE detachment. It works differently than Black Heart but I truly believe after months of playing it, its can be just as effective and more versatile. Anyway thanks man

  3. Ligolski February 17, 2019 7:31 am #

    Hey Cav,

    Ive struggled with splinter weaponry in this edition, finding that poison is just ineffective in 8th given the abundance of t3 horde and the fact that monsters now have 10+ wounds. Poison just isnt attractive to me anymore. I find myself leaning towards ravagers (obviously) and coven units (mainly grotesques) that can reliably get the job done.


    • Cavalier February 17, 2019 8:54 am #

      Hey bud. Yeah I’ve had the total opposite experience with my poison vs. T3 infantry. I play against endless, endless Imperial Guard and I find with even just 3×5 Warriors in 3x dual cannon Venoms that I obliterate infantry. Especially because it nullfiies prepared positions. Even wounding on 4’s its really no problem. Swooping Hawks work much the same way and they are excellent due to volume of fire and maneuverability

      As for dissies and grots, they are totally great. But I tend towards Incubi, Wraithblades for melee AI, and Crimson Hunters, Skyweavers and Reapers for anti-monster/anti-tank (I always run a mixed Aeldari list). I actually think Ravagers are very susceptible to early wipe-outs since you cant DS them T1 anymore and I prefer the -1 to hit platform in the Venom, or the toughness of the Wave Serpent + Wraithblades.

      That being said, even if you do wanna go down the route of including Coven and Ravagers, Flayed Skull Warriors in Venoms gives you a really stable core of troops in a -1 to hit platform, re-rolling 1’s with your splinter, grabbing objectives with extra speed and taking pressure off of Grots in their Raiders and your Ravagers as those units can focus on more important threats than just chaff. Plus Flayed Skull Ravagers with their special stratagem are great against flyers. So you can really have the best of both worlds very easily

  4. sultansean February 19, 2019 9:50 am #

    Great article. It’s a tough choice between Flayed Skull and Black Heart. I’m leaning towards a Flayed Skull battalion with my Ynnari. If you are running triple ravagers I think you either need a Farseer with Doom, or Black Heart for Writ of the Living Muse. The Writ tempts me towards Black Heart more than Vect does.

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