Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thoughts on Special Characters - Part 1: Njal Stormcaller

I don't know about anyone else but when I first saw the Space Wolves special character models I just had to have them. In fact they're probably what made me want to play Space Wolves in the first place. I have fond memories of watching my friends Wolves army led by Ragnar Blackmane tearing into Tyranids.

Therefore when I was planning what to buy for my army I got a bit carried away and bought all of them! Ragnar and Ulrik I managed to pick up pretty cheaply from eBay but the rest came from Dark Sphere.

The problem I've found with them is that due to their cost it's hard to work one of them into a list (nevermind two, three or even four!). As I've mentioned before we don't play stat-crunching games so I've managed to get them in a couple of times. Ulrik is pretty easy to justify since he's only about 50 points more than a normal Wolf Priest. However, I still struggle when I think I could have two rune priests for the same cost as Njal or a whole terminator squad instead of Logan.

I play 40K to have interesting battles. This means that special characters crop up pretty often. Obviously in lower points games I don't use them much since not only do they eat up a huge chunk but from a fluff point of view it doesn't make much sense. You wouldn't really expect Logan Grimnar the leader of the entire chapter to show up to a minor skirmish.

Anyway, here's my thoughts on Njal Stormcaller (or Nigel as we tend to call him). Since I've got the terminator model I'm going to ignore the option of not putting him in terminator armour. To be honest considering he's 245 points without it you're putting a lot of points into something that a lascannon can take out in one shot. The power armour thing was, in my opinion, only really included for those who had the old Njal model. 

For starters let's consider what you're getting for your points. For a rune priest in terminator armour with master psyker, wolftooth necklace and a chooser you're already spending 200 pts. For the additional 70 points you're getting what is essentially a third psychic power, a 3+ nullification of enemy psychic attacks, 4+ invulnerable save, nightwing (who isn't a lot of use) and Saga of Majesty. Oh and you aren't forced to pick which psychic powers you want to use before the game, feel free to use which ever you fancy at the time. This means that Njal is pretty flexible. You can sit him at the back with your Long Fangs and blast out Living Lightning or put him up from with some Grey Hunters (obviously without a rhino) and get him in nice and close for his Lord of Tempests to have maximum effect.

When we look at his statline you aren't really getting a lot more than a standard rune priest except for an extra attack. It does, however, mean he's a bit more likely to survive in the midst of close combat. The main issue I have with him is that whilst he may have a 4+ invulnerable save, he still only has 2 wounds and isn't immune to instant death. It'd only take a nob with a power klaw directing attacks to him for those saving throws to be crucial.

That won't stop me taking him though because I think Lord of Tempests adds an interesting element to the game. Granted the FAQ has, in some people's eyes, nerfed the power a little, but if your opponent is a little more open minded you can still use it when you get second turn and just let the power run until your next go.

Tournament players are never going to include him since two Rune Priests can provide a similar performance for the same points and have a little bit less of the eggs in one basket risk. Those of us who enjoy more casual games will still find a use for him. The problem then becomes; is he better than the other special characters for the same price? I'll be reviewing his main competition, in the form of the Great Wolf himself, in the next of this little series.

Let me know what you think.


  1. Nice article, but I had to laugh at the closing line. Tony K, who won NovaOpen the last two years and the 2010 Adepticon used Njal in this year's Nova... So, evidently, "Tournament players are never going to include him" doesn't exactly hold true.

  2. and also, power armor makes him a viable cannidate for sticking in a rhino, which i always do as my grey hunter squads are already 9 man because i stick wolf guard with fists in there. Anyways, besides the rhino thing and tournament viability, good review


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