Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast. Continuing to explore why I feel Flayed Skull is equal to or perhaps the best of all the Kabal Obsessions.
In my last article I defined the special rules, relic and wargear for Flayed Skull and why I think this Kabal Obsession is the best in terms of battalion building. In very brief summary, the 3″ of movement on all your vehicles re-roll 1’s on Splinter Rifles and Splinter Cannons, Ignore Cover makes this a very offensively efficient and reliable troops base, that is not only perfect for building a battalion but also fantastic for objective scoring, especially when in Venoms. For more on this please read my last article, because its a vital component of why I find this Obsession so excellent.
To expand on that, there are 2 other vital points into what make Flayed Skull so excellent. 1: Command Point Efficiency 2: Cross-Faction Synergy
Command Point Efficiency
Probably what I love most about Flayed Skull is that they really aren’t reliant on Command Points to get things done. They automatically move that extra 3″ in their vehicles, ignore cover and re-roll 1’s with their splinter weapons. No psychic powers, stratagems or character buffs needed. Furthermore when taken in Venoms which their Obsession traits scream out for due to re-roll 1’s for splinter weaponry, you are getting your entire troop core and really the heavy lifters of your entire army into -1 to hit platform with a 5++ thats open-topped and can (and should) have one of the best infantry borne anti-tank weapons in the game in the Blaster. There are so many to die for traits, buffs and weapons in just the bundle of Flayed Skull Warriors in Venoms that its almost mind boggling you are getting this much from your basic troop. On top of that, the range at which they operate are perfect for taking objectives. None of this costs a single command point and in terms of straight points they are supremely affordable.
A stock battalion strength of Flayed Skull Warriors in Venoms need almost no Command Points investment to run at a high rate of efficiency, freeing up those vital command points for either more Drukhari detachments, or allied assistance from either their Asuryani or Harlequin cousins.
There will be some cross-over with the previous section on command point efficiency, but that is a big part of the synergy. Like I closed the last paragraph with, since your Flayed Skull battalion needs almost no stratagem support itself, it is the perfect battery to fuel other CP hungry Aeldari detachments and the killer stratagems they rely on.
Since you are not worried about saving up your CP to play Vect once or twice a game, this gives you a lot CP to play with in terms of Stratagems. 4-8 CP is a huge expenditure for Vect and most players will really only get a chance to play it 1 time a game. For me this is not worth it, especially since I always play other Aeldari factions alongside my Drukhari. For the cost of 1 Vect, I’m playing Lightening Fast Reactions twice. For anyone playing Alaitoc of Harlequins you know how massive that is. So lets highlight the specific benefits of playing Flayed Skull alongside other popular Aeldari factions and sub-factions.
Harlequins Skyweavers for Anti-Knights
By forgoing Black Heart and the Vect stratagem, this really gives you a big pool of CP to invest into getting your Harlequins and lets be real, your Skyweavers to be Alaitoc-elusive. One of the big selling points for Black Heart is the usefulness against Knights. You Vect your opponents Rotate Ion Shields, use Writ of the Living Muse on Ravagers (which are not optimal after the changes to Deep Strike IMO) to get more reliable hits and wounds. Yet even after that most of the time you are still dealing with a 4++ or a 5++ and perhaps have even had to commit a Warlock to Jinx the thing.
Instead I’d rather invest those 4 CP into a unit of maxed Soaring Spite Skyweavers and do without the Ravagers altogether. So with those Skyweavers you are kicking out 6d6 shots that do mortal wounds on a 4+ to Vehicles (and Str 4 -1AP to everything else) and do d3 mortal wounds everytime you roll a 6 to wound. I’ll move, advance and play Prismatic Blur to give that unit a 3++, then play Fire and Fade to either jet the backwards or get them out of LOS.
If there are any real threats to them next turn I’ll play Lightening Fast Reactions on them and for that same amount of CP for Vect, your ignoring the Knights Invuln save, all with a single unit that has a 3++, -2 to hit and is probably out of LOS or at least moved back 31″ from the Knight (24″ range of the gun, + 7″ for Fire and Fade).
Furthermore this is a unit that can Advance and Charge and excels at clearing objectives with their Zephyr Glavies which are Str 4 AP-2 Dmg 2 should choose to upgrade them.
In my games these things have been INCREDIBLE game winners. They are easier to hide than Ravagers, they are single unit meaning you’ve got great efficiency in terms of Stratagem use, can fight in melee and have great anti-infantry at range and one of the best anti-armor weapons in the game that dealing horrendous amount of mortal wounds to vehicles.
Now how does this relate to Flayed Skull? Well with a Battalion of Flayed Skull (and a battalion of anything else) you are generating enough CP to keep a Patrol of these guys up and running. Furthermore, when taking them in Venoms you are operating in the same range as the these Jetbikes, lending anti-infantry support, blaster support (with all the Flayed Skull benefits) to finish off what they dont kill, move blocking to keep the Jetbikes safe and again… when in Venoms all in a -1 to hit platform that jives perfectly with the Harlequins who operate at -1 to hit when on bikes or Starweavers all who operate at a similar range. This enables you to maintain good army cohesion, board presence and which leads to a natural, easy to maintain mutual support. Furthermore Flayed Skull specializes in the sort of drudgery (objective grabbing, horde clearance, shooting units out of cover with their ignore cover) that bogs a Harlequin army down or force you spend points on stuff like Death Jesters and whatnot.
Instead upon a Flayed Skull foundation, you can take only the premium units you want and have a lot of CP to keep them rocking at peak performance.
I could go on forever about how they jive with the other Craftworlds, but for the sake of brevity I’m going to focus simply on Alaitoc (shout out to Iyanden and Saim-Hann though. Highly underrated in ways similar to Flayed Skull). I take a battalion of Alaitoc and Flayed Skull in nearly every game and its been absolutley brilliant. Flayed Skull Venom-born warriors match perfectly with Alaitoc due to their in built -1 to hit. Unlike Alaitoc though, that -1 to hit is not affected by range, meaning you can get up into mid-field and still have that -1 to hit, which is fantastic because the one thing Alaitoc doesnt want to do, is jump mid-field and grab objectives. Flayed Skull seems almost designed to do that with their extra movmenet (19″ without advancing) as well the fact that you want to be in rapid-fire range with all the splinter weaponry, as well as Blaster range.
This sets up Alaitoc to do what it does best, form a gunline and blow stuff away with their firepower.
However, the benefit of Flayed Skull needing almost no Stratagem resort is HUGE for Alaitoc. The one that jumps out to me, is it enables you to play Lightening Fast Reactions very casually. Say you are going second and your Reapers are getting targeted you can play Lightening Fast reactions and not even blink. Say you need to get your Crimson Hunter Exarch mid-field to get past a big LOS blocking piece of terrain to blow up a Manticore, Basilisk, Knight -whatever, but he’ll be within 12″ of a dangerous shooting unit. Play Lightening Fast Reactions and keep him at -2 (while your other Crimson Hunters hang back).
Also it gives you enough CP so that you can freely play stratagems like Phantasm, Forewarned which are 2 CP and can be game winning as well and not really care when you are rocking up to the table with 13 CP.
Now it may seem that I spent more time talking about the other Aeldari sub-factions and highlighting their particular strengths than I did talking about Flayed Skull. The fact is, that allowing these other factions/sub-factions to operate at peak strength, while simultaneously going out and fulfilling roles that these factions do NOT excel at is a massive strength (also see my first article for more of a stand-alone analysis of their strengths). The fact that they can do this with literally no stratagem support is what I find so compelling about Flayed Skull as a sub-faction. All of their benefits are front-loaded into the Obsession traits and allow them to operate CP-free.
I could go on forever about the other opportunities this unlocks, especially with the other Drukhari options, but for today I’ll leave it at this.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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