2020 Seraphon Breakdown – The Thunder Lizards

At long last, we have reached the final entry in my four part series breaking down the new Seraphon constellations, and we are ending on a strong note. Perhaps the strongest of the four, comes the Thunder Lizards. You can find my breakdown of the other constellations at the following links; Dracothion’s Tail, Fangs of Sotek, and Koatl’s Claw.

As is customary with all of my other breakdowns, here is a link to a spreadsheet compilation of all of the new allegiance abilities for Seraphon. I highly recommend you use this as a guide throughout this article, as it will make understanding these abilities a lot easier, thus making this article easier to follow. With all that out of the way, let the monster mash begin.

Thunder Lizards – The Abilities

The first ability given to us is Mighty Beasts of War, adding two to the wound characteristic of all of our Monsters. Considering all of our Monsters already have a ton of wounds and are decently hard to deal damage to anyways, I’d say this ability is pretty good. Unfortunately with how the charts work with bracketing Monsters, they go off of wounds allocated, rather than wounds remaining, so this won’t help in extending the brackets of our Monsters, but keeping them alive longer is still amazing, especially if we play a lot of them.

After Mighty Beasts of War, we get the command ability Trove of Old One Technology, which, for the low low price of one command point, allows us to either get an additional Cosmic Engine roll with our Engine of the Gods, or an additional attack with the Solar Engine on our Bastiladons. This command ability is absolutely absurd. It does deserve mentioning that a unit can only benefit from this ability once a turn, but even then, the Solar Engine is one of the best missile weapons in Seraphon’s entire army, and additional attacks will be devastating.

The Cosmic Engine of the Engine of the Gods got severely nerfed in my opinion, having a higher cost of dice rolling for effects that seem worse than the old effects, though it is in no way bad. It needs to be known that the ability is still great, and getting an additional roll is still definitely worth a command point.

Moving on brings us to the command trait offered by Thunder Lizards, Prime Warbeast. This adds 1 to the attack characteristic of every weapon for the mount your general is on, and naturally can only be taken by a general who has a Monster mount. For this requirement, there are only three units capable of taking it; the Saurus Oldblood on Carnosaur, the Saurus Scar-Veteran on Carnosaur, and the Skink Oracle on Troglodon. All of these are quite good, and all of their mounts have weapons that can heavily benefit, so we’ll discuss in the Synergies section which choice we should lean towards. But this command trait is awesome and definitely benefits us enough to want a Monster mounted general.

Finally, we come to the artefact, Fusil of Conflagration. This is essentially a missile weapon with 12” range where you roll a single dice, a 1 destroys the artefact so it can’t be used anymore, a 2 or 3 causes nothing to happen, a 4 or 5 deals 1D3 mortal wounds, and a 6 deals 1D6 mortal wounds. This is a mediocre artefact at best, and there are much better choices, however if we are Thunder Lizards, we have to take this artefact first before any other one. What can I say, if all of the abilities we got from them were absurd we would have only the illusion of choice.

Closing thoughts: all around very good abilities. The lists we make for Thunder Lizard will mostly build themselves, my only complaint really being is that I believe there is a “correct” build for Thunder Lizards that will be relatively easy to find. I don’t think there will be too many arguments over how lists should be constructed, save for discussions on battleline choices. With that, let’s move over to synergies.

Synergies

So, let’s go down the line of abilities, and what best works in combination with them. As for Mighty Beasts of War, there’s not much to talk about other than ‘Monsters = good’. What is nice about being Thunder Lizards, is we’re able to take Stegadons as a battleline, meaning our battleline now has Monsters in it for even more wounds.

For the command ability Trove of Old One Technology, I would like to refer to the Thunderquake Temple-host battalion. This battalion calls for an Engine of the Gods or Stegadon with Skink Chief, two units in any combination of Bastiladons or Stegadons, and either a unit of Kroxigor or a Hunting Pack (Salamander or Razordon). This battalion gives us an option of two separate abilities that we can choose from during our hero phase; Swift or Savage. Swift allows the units in the battalion to run and still shoot and charge, while Savage adds 1 to the attack characteristic of their melee weapons.

The build I would take for this battalion would consist of an Engine of the Gods, two Bastiladons, and a Salamander Hunting Pack. Choosing Swift would allow our Bastiladons and Salamanders to get into the action a lot quicker without sacrificing their insane missile weapons in the early game before we can get within melee weapon range, and once the army clashes with the opponent in close range, we can choose Savage to make our melee weapons better than the opponent’s. I wish that Savage didn’t limit itself to only melee weapons, but it’s still a very good effect that we should have at our disposal, especially since we’re already going to be running most of the units in the battalion anyways. Running two Bastiladons into the fray and getting off a total of 36 Solar Engine attacks on our first turn could very well be back-breaking for the opponent.

Moving along to the Prime Warbeast ability, we’re brought back to our only three options for the command trait; the Saurus Oldblood on Carnosaur, the Saurus Scar-Veteran on Carnosaur, and the Skink Oracle on Troglodon. Even though the Oldblood technically outputs the most wounds per turn on average, it doesn’t make it the best of the three units. The Troglodon has three different weapons, whereas the Carnosaur only has two, so even though it has a higher wound output, the Troglodon gets more of a benefit from Prime Warbeast. This average also does not account for spell casting however, and we’ll come back to this point in theory crafting.

As for the artefact, Fusil of Conflagration, there really isn’t a single unit that has better synergy on average than the others. The three units mentioned above all have the same move characteristic (an average of 8”), though the Troglodon does have the capability of re-rolling charge rolls if that counts as synergy? Being Coalesced, we don’t have access to Lords of Space and Time, so we can’t even teleport units in range for it. I really wish there was more to this artefact than that, but it’s a petty basic artefact.

Closing thoughts: as I mentioned above, it seems to be fairly obvious which units you should be playing, save for a select few, and the Thunderquake Temple-host will be an all-star for certain. With that, let’s move on to theory crafting.

Theory Crafting

Let’s talk generals. 

The discussion on which of these three are best (the Saurus Oldblood on Carnosaur, the Saurus Scar-Veteran on Carnosaur, or the Skink Oracle on Troglodon)is a lot more in depth than I originally anticipated, so get ready for an info dump. To help ease this, I recorded my calculations for the average wounds each unit can output on a turn on this spreadsheet. For the variable characteristics (such as D6 attacks, D3 damage, or bracket numbers from charts on the warscrolls) I simply took the average for them to plug in. This does not factor in save rolls or rend, nor does it add any other outside modifiers.

When we left off, the Skink Oracle on Troglodon was our best option in terms of synergies with the Prime Warbeast ability, having an additional attack over the Scar-Veteran on Carnosaur and Oldblood on Carnosaur, even though the latter two have a higher average wound output. However, that is far from the end of the discussion for which general is best, so it’s time to really narrow it down. First, let’s compare the two Carnosaur units.

There are two primary differences between the two units; first is the Sunbolt Gauntlet on the Oldblood, a missile weapon with an 18” range, while the Scar-Veteran does not have a missile weapon. The second, is a single ability that the two units have, the Oldblood having Blazing Sunbolts, and the Scar-Veteran having Celestite Warspear. In a vacuum, Celestite Warspear is better, and relevant a larger percentage of the time, however not having access to a good missile weapon on top of an overall lower average wound output is enough to strike off the Scar-Veteran.

So now is the face off between the Oldblood and the Skink Oracle. Here, we have a few other factors to keep in mind, mainly the fact that the Oracle is a wizard that knows Comet’s Call. Comet’s Call has a 72.2% chance of dealing an average of 4 mortal wounds a turn, and a 27.8% of dealing an average of 7 mortal wounds a turn. These wounds are mortal, something that the Carnosaur has no way of doing, only having access to regular wounds. Additionally, the Oracle can unbind spells being a wizard, but also can unbind anywhere on the battlefield with its Oracle of the Slann ability. Being conservative, the Troglodon outputs an average of 10.1 wounds a turn, 4 of which are mortal, while the Oldblood only has 8.15, none of which are mortal.

After all of that discussion, I can solidly say that the Skink Oracle on Troglodon is our best option as a general.

The next choice I would make is the inclusion of the Thunderquake Temple-host, choosing an Engine of the Gods, two Bastiladons, and a Salamander Hunting Pack. This gives us maximum odds of Trove of Old One Technology being good, while the Salamander vs Razordon choice is unfortunately obvious. It’s no secret that Salamanders are absurd, their weapons have better odds of landing attacks, and deal more damage than their counterparts.

I next want to make an argument for the inclusion of a Slann Starmaster. The Starmasters have two big relevant abilities, the first is he gives us an extra dice to roll with when using the Cosmic Engine ability of the Engine of the Gods. The second is his Foresight ability, which gives us extra command points to use on Trove of Old One Technology. Honestly, I think it’s quite good in this build, and I’d be happy to table it.

The last thing to really talk about is battlelines. With the Thunder Lizards, we have the ability to run Stegadons as a battleline, which I absolutely would recommend. Being Monsters, they benefit from Mighty Beasts of War, gaining two additional wounds each. With point restrictions however, I also would not mind running a unit of Saurus Guard, but only if you also want to run a Slann Starmaster. They’re cheap in points, especially when compared to the rest of our army, and they do a good job of protecting the Slann so that our Bastiladons don’t have to sit back to act as the guards. Everyone can fly into the action while the Starmaster sits close to the Engine of the Gods, followed by his royal guard.

Closing thoughts; I think this is one of the most brutal builds for Seraphon one can make. The immense number of wounds this army has in combination with some of the insane weapons on board makes it a foe that requires respect, else you risk being completely ran over by their attacks. That being said, this is a terrible army for battle plans that reward maneuverability such as Shifting Objectives or Scorched Earth. Most all of our units have a small amount of movement, and lacking any abilities to really push them more, save for the Swift option from the Thunderquake Temple-host. 

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the sea comes the end of our Seraphon breakdowns. I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil. In all seriousness, I had an absolute blast learning these constellations and playing around with all the new rules. It’s been super good for figuring out what I want to explore first. Hopefully our quarantine will end soon so we can get back to the table. Until then, I’ll leave you with what a 2,000 point list would look like if I brought it to the table tomorrow with the Thunder Lizard constellation. Thanks for joining me!

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