Stormcast Eternals have a number of strengths when it comes to designing an effective list, including durability and good damage output. This is mitigated by a number of weaknesses which include lack of basic mobility and no wizards. You can shore up these weaknesses with allies of course, but when designing a pure Stormcast list it is essential to look at how you will mitigate these weaknesses, especially the biggest of the bunch – mobility.
Walking four inches or five inches a turn across the board, especially while the sky is darkened with the shooting of your enemy, is not going to work. When playing against an army such as ranged heavy Skaven, or bunker-style Seraphon, you can’t simply weather the firepower and walk your way to victory as your opponent is very unlikely to walk half the distance for you!
Zero wizards mean that you have to prioritize killing the enemy casters as quickly as possible or they will blast you with impunity as you slowly trudge forwards.
Thankfully the Stormcast have an effective method of delivering themselves into the heart of the enemy through the lightning strike ability. Once you’re in position though, you’re stuck with this low mobility again much like a drop pod marine army in 40k. There are ways to build around this strategy though to maximize your alpha strike and have a few repositioning tricks up your sleeve.
The Hammerstrike Force
The key to a lightning strike based build is this formation, clocking in at 660 points for its minimum size (two units of 5 Retributors, 3 Prosecutors and the formation cost). Given the substantial price to just take the formation itself (120), I would normally recommend increasing the size of the units involved rather than running two. Two is still certainly workable, however can become cost prohibitive. As well three Prosecutors are not what I would exactly call a survivable lynchpin unit, so I’d always run six.
The key to the formation is the ability to lightning strike the Retributors within 6 inches of the prosecutors. There is no minimum distance from enemies other than the standard 3 inches on movement restriction. This also occurs in any of the movement phases, but it is not required to be at the start of the movement phase.
This allows the prosecutors to move 12″ +D6 run then have the lightning strike hit. With the 6 inch bubble from the Prosecutors we’re now talking about having those Retributors placed 30 +D6 inches up the board turn one (factoring in a 12 inch deployment zone). That is a VERY reliable turn one charge.
As if that wasn’t great enough, for that one turn you barrel into the enemy, you get to add 1 to your wound rolls. Wounding on a 2+ with a -1 rend doing 2 damage each time is nothing to sneeze at. Plus of course you have the Retributors’ ability to generate two mortal wounds every time you roll a six to hit!
How I run it: two units of 5 Retributors (one Starsoul mace in each), and one unit of six Prosecutors with Celestial Hammers (760 points). This makes it much more difficult to remove the Prosecutors so you can still utilize the lightning strike consistently.
Once the lightning strike has been accomplished, you can use the Prosecutors in a harassment type role to pick off wizards and buffing characters such as totems. That’s about all they can handle on their own unfortunately.
Here is a solid unit that adds to the power of a lightning strike list, however not in the alpha strike. It is tempting to drop the Prime early, raining meteors down for D3 mortal wounds and trying to charge in to take on big monsters. The problem is, with only 8 wounds at a 3+ save, it is not difficult to take the Prime down, especially if there are wizards on the board. In addition, as he stays off the board he’s powering up, giving you a lot of damage potential (2 attacks at -3 rend and three damage each!).
How I use him: I wait until turn three. By this point in my game I’ve fully committed to the lightning strike and I’m in the position I THOUGHT I’d want to be in. Unfortunately if I’m playing a very mobile opponent, the rest of the army might have gotten out of Dodge once the Retributors showed up to party, and they are slow as dirt to reposition.
The Prime gives me a secondary lightning strike (as long as greater than 9″ away) to put pressure on a different area of the board. With the ability to change a dice to any number he likes, he’s also nearly guaranteed to make that charge when he comes in.
This guy is the way you get a third nearly guaranteed lightning strike charge. You always want to have him with the Pennant of the Stormbringer. This allows you to once per game pick up any Stormcast unit, remove them from play and place them anywhere more than 3″ from the enemy. Enemy units within 6″ suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 4+ when the unit lands.
The possibilities with this ability are endless. You can deliver another beefy combat unit to guaranteed charge range, get a character where you need it (including the Knight-Vexillor to get his 12″ range of reroll charge rolls in place), or lock something down with a tarpit (Liberators). You can also pull a unit out of combat where they might be tarpitted (or they’ve bitten off more than they can chew), and move it to a combat better suited to them.
How I use him: I have a big unit of foot Paladins in my backfield and teleport them either in full alpha strike with the hammerstrike force or for a devastating counter charge.
The key units above are running you 1,320 points just for the Prime, Vexillor and Hammerstrike with six Prosecutors. In matched play you’re also going to need battleline units and your options are only two – Judicators or Liberators. Bows are best for ranged support and wizard hunting. Crossbows are best for holding objectives in cover and punishing anything that gets close such as mobile objective grabbers. I normally run one unit of each to cover my bases. I also like at least one unit of Liberators (2 at 2500 points), for objective grabbing and tarpit duties.
This guy is not mandatory, but serves a key role to buff the unit that you’re going to be sending off to cause havoc using the Knight Vexillor as he adds 1 to all save rolls until the next hero phase. This is particularly useful on Paladins, given if they make a save roll of 7, or more they heal a wound. A 3+ save with the potential of healing wounds on a 3 wound model is pretty fantastic!
The second optional character can be used to throw a few mortal wounds around, but more importantly provides a 9″ buff where all units in range can add one to their to hit rolls. This can be devastating to use with Retributors who cause 2 automatic mortal wounds on a hit roll of 6 or more. Feel free to have his handy Vexillor friend launch him into the thick of things to support that Hammerstrike charge. Alternatively if you save the Hammerstrike units until turn two, he is much more likely to be in position to support their charge (especially in the case of double Hammerstrike).
Sample 2,000 point lightning strike list:
Knight Vexillor with the Pennant of the Stormbringer
5 Judicators with skybolt bows and shockbolt bow
5 Judicators with boltstorm crossbows and thunderbolt crossbow