Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Njal Vs Rune Priests

Many of you have expressed many different views on army list, theory hammer and math hammer, but does that all work out in games? Well It’s hard to tell. Do you play a diverse amount of players, all who are good, and all who run fairly strong “net” lists? Of course not, so I am here to discuss some strengths and weaknesses between 2 units who have some contending within certain people’s lists and views.

Njal has crept up a fair bit recently. Now I will start by saying this, he is NOT point efficient. People have been saying this since the codex came out, but all of a sudden, one person (Tony, a good player none the less) has done well using him at a fairly large Tourney (Adepticon) and the internet has imploded. Let me tell you this; are those 8 (Ed. - thanks anonymous! we like to be factually correct where poss!) games a good enough conclusion? Of course not. Do we know who he faced? Well I know of some of them, a few Orks, Nids, another wolf army and guard. Are any of these armies going to bring the best out of Njals abilities? Some of them you say? Ok, so how do we meet the balance and efficiency of his 245pt cost?


Let’s start with his rules. 2 Powers a turn, ok cool that’s neat, but only 1 can be shooting. Seeing as 75% of the powers are shooting, this kind of nullifies his effectiveness.

His tempest abilities are nice. One of the best ones, the ability to reduce enemy shooting within 24 inches can only be used if you get Turn 1 (check the Faq). Ok so, that’s very situational for a start, so let’s go back and look at Tony’s games. We notice that he had first turn in almost all of them, so that’s beneficial from the start. Now let’s look at the real world, does this happen? No, ok so that’s solved.

Other abilities are decent, but mostly 18 inch range. This means I have no choice but to use him in an aggressive manor or face wasting his pts...brilliant. What If I want to play like proper wolves do and control midfield, not bum rush my opponents army just to get anything out of him.

What if his transport goes down and there’s nothing near to pick him up. How would that happen, you ask? Well some people need to cover a lot of the board with their armies. I for one don’t want to put 2-3 rhino squads next to Njal JUST in case his transport gets blasted off the board early on. Overall, it’s a big fat MEEH from me. Nothing special and nothing game breaking. It forces the player to use Njal and his unit in an aggressive way which in some games is stupid, great.

3 + Nullification, this is where it gets decent. This is fantastic against most of the newer armies out there. With psychic powers become very staple and common, this ability alone is a fantastic ability, but again, how many pts over a Rune priests 4+ are we paying here? Well we will come to that in a minute.

2 Wounds and basically the same stat line as a normal Rune priest...well that sucks, how is he “special”..oh yeh he has awesome “abilities” right? Yay he gets a cyber eagle, which is a chooser of the slain but gets to make a rubbish attack before combat starts. How many pts of this character has been invested into that crappy upgrade I wander? Chooser of the slain is 10pts, I assume GW made this 20 because it’s obviously twice as good...not.

Oh but wait, he has a 15 pt saga which allows me to re roll LD test nearby...awesome. Well it’s nice to have sure, but let’s now counter all these “pro’s” with logic.


First, let’s take 2 Rune priests, 1 with chooser of the slain & a wolf tail talisman, and 1 with just a wolf tail talisman. Now this isn’t standard, but let me explain. A fair amount of psychic powers are damaging spells or target spells. This load out (which is still cheaper than Njal btw) allows me to roll a 4+ within 24 inches, followed by a 5+ to stop the targeting spell. To me, thats decent for the pts I have paid. Do I really need to spend 140pts more just to get a slightly better roll off when we all know in games you going to roll a 1 anyway. I’d rather have a re-roll (effectively).

So the 2 priests can target 2 enemy units with 2 damaging spells. This can be potentiall 2 Jaws or living lightning’s depending on how you have configured your priests. Both are above an 18 inch range like Njals tempest, do decent damage in their own way, and can be controlled. I can announce which spell I want, rather than have to roll a dice and get the crappy one I don’t need or want. Awesome, great start.

2 Priests mean I can provide two units LD 10 and have them be on different sides of the board. No need to stay within 6 inches of one another just to gain Saga of the majesty’s effects or become a pickup truck when one of their transports falls down a hole.

2 Priests mean further board control. I can cover a much larger range with their hoods. This is very big in Dawn of war. Sometimes, it’s best to flank your army rather than deploy centrally, so have 2 sides of the board covered can be very effective. If one gets de meched, you still have another. What I also mean by board control is psychological effects. Having Njal on one side of the board, and Ghazghull on the other isn’t helping much. Having 2 priests mean you can deal with Ghazghull and have the other deal with another threat. This gives your opponent a tough decision and further “no go” areas. This is of course an example and fairly situational, but none the less an advantage over Njal.

2 Priests also has some Njal will never have, a positive effect on our grey hunter squads. Not only in LD, but in combat. Both throw out 4 attacks on the charge and counter charge, boosting your unit’s damage potential. Sure It’s nothing amazing, but neither is it something to scoff at. 4 power attacks mixed with a banner, in 2 squads, makes those units even deadlier. With Njal, I only see one of those 2 units boosted, so overall not as effective.

What about the new Vindicare assassin, other wolf armies with jaws, or getting that one unit locked into combat with something you didn’t want to be. Losing that priest can prove really damaging in some games. For example, Njals squad has suffered a lot of casualties in shooting and are about to be charged by a fairly strong unit. You know they are going to die and you made a few mistakes, or a few bad rolls. This has effectively ended you priest’s role in the game. It happens, but when you have two priests, this isn’t as damaging. You may, for example, need your priest to jaws a Tervigon as your missiles just aren’t doing what they should. With 2 you are fairly likely to achieve that role.


Now I personally run 1 priest in my list, so i am not telling you guys to take 2 priests, but look at the difference in those points spent. I have effectively increased my armies output, redundancy and efficiency just by utilising the points I had available to me. Id personally rather get 1 priest (100pts) and a 6 man Long Fang squad with 5 Rockets (140pts) and throw those 5pts spare on some Dozer blades, than take Njal, but that’s just me. I see more efficiency in those selections than Njal.

To conclude, I leave you all with this: How many times in your games have you thought “Damn if only he was Njal” EXCEPT for when you roll a 3 to nullify a power?



  1. Ha ha, I have been using him in blog wars test games!! I really like him, but the ONLY time I'll be using him is in this tournament that requires a special character!
    You are right, with a rune priest I can get so much more for the points.
    I will absolutely not knock anyone who does use him though. He is good in combat thanks to WTN as well...the saga is very useful as is the Psychic defense.
    He may not be points efficient, but he is very good...

  2. Its bully day Alex! Stepping on my toes!

    Nice Article. I kinda like Njal, just as a throw back to the old days (where he still wasn't uber, but kinda cool then) - his extra powers are funky, but like you say, he is "limited" and if your spending that many points - 2 RP's can get you just as effective, if not more so, out put.

    Solid choice for the SC though ven, doesn't really mess with a standard build at all - just takes out a unit I guess.

    Guess I'll post at the weekend?

  3. Sorry bully, didnt look lol, bad habits :<!

    Erm, WTN? Most units which your GH's can handle your hitting on 3's anyway, so no boost there. If your facing WS5 dudes, its most likely a dirty horrific unit and your about to die!

    Saga is useful, but as stated, When playing games and your army needs to be spread out, 2 priests are much more efficient.

    Psychic defense is the only + about him.

  4. I guess its weekend for you mate! If its ready, pop it on a scheduled post and it could go up for an excellent Sunday afternoon read Bully!!
    Not convinced or settled on a list for blog wars yet...njal has been very good and you're right, with some efficient work with the restof the army he in fact buffs it, not inhibits it...

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  6. @killswitch. Dude, I fight more fucking marines than anything else, and ws4 is pretty common amongst xenos too mate...wtn is a +, but only a little one... I'm not disagreeing with you brother, I'm just saying he most certainly has his place in competitive lists...

  7. Exactly, and a normal Rune priest is WS5 lol...

  8. No worries Alex, was a good post in my stead anyway - gives me a chance to drop down the word count and get to the meat of the article a bit more.

    KS - just ask Ven this very simple question "would you ever use him if you weren't required to take a SC?!" lol.

    Like you say ven, I'd never knock anyone for taking him, because he does have that potential ... slightly better than average rolls and a bit of luck and he could shut down an enemy psy attack for the game, and in the mean time put out some pretty nasty powers.

    I think it was Purgatus over at Best Overall that had a good reason for taking him - he was stuck in a hole on what powers to take - so he took the swiss army knife approach, paid a bit more (think he had him stacked in TDA as well).

    But thats besides the point, I think KS has it right, if you were going straight down the line trying to be effecient and maximise your points, but wanted a "veritable" option of targets/powers - 2 rune priest (with added extra's!) are just the job! Also I do like that with the 2, you have a damn big bubble of psy defence - decent positioning and you can shut down 48" breadth of the table.

  9. You've done a good job out outlining why Njal is not the ideal HQ choice for a competitive list, but I think you took it a bit too far in the other direction.

    Space Wolves have many powers that are situationally useful but not idea for an all-comers list when you can only take 2 powers. Tempest's Wrath is hilarious against DOA jumpers and bikes; Storm Caller is great on a table that lacks cover; Living Lightning, Murderous Hurricane, and Jaws are all good shooting powers, but all good for different reasons and in different circumstances. MH isn't going to see much use against mech Eldar, for instance; I'd rather have LL and Tempest. Njal knows all of the powers, so I will always have the right tools for the job. The fact that Njal can cast 2 power per turn (combined with the fact that none of our powers can be used in the opponent's turn) means that I can utilise a shooting attack and a utility power - something I wouldn't pay for on a Rune Priest that only knows 2 powers, both of which are probably shooting attacks anyway - but it's useful for Njal, because he knows all the powers.

    The first two effects of Lord of Tempests are indeed ineffective if you don't go first; but that's hardly situational. You can choose to go first in roughly half the games you play, and will be forced to go first in others. The other late-game effects are indeed hampered by a relatively short range, but they excel in the midfield, where you have a 36" diameter bubble of effect. Tornados and Lightning are especially great in KP games, where you'll end up picking up free KPs without even trying.

    If you look at the way Tony plays, it's clear that Njal works especially well with his list. He took a big fat pile of GH squads in Rhinos and played them in a manner that allowed them to support one another, provide cover, and also made it easy for Njal to hop into a different transport if it became necessary. Obviously you can't just toss Njal into any old list and expect him to perform the way you want, just like you wouldn't toss out 105 points of stuff from your tourney list for another rune priest and expect it to work just like that.

    Your conclusion is a bit tongue in cheek, but seriously: Njal brings abilities to the table that have no equal in the codex. You sacrifice redundancy for an unparalleled board presence that demands attention, without an easy counter.

  10. Just an FYI, adepticon was 8 games and Tony only went first 3 out of the 8 games. He was seized on 3 times..

  11. @Anonymous - thanks, I'll edit KS's article... the seizing has a big disruption factor no? It's annoying as hell and especially if you have deployed with the fairly solid assumption of going first...can really impact the game. But Wolves do have a fantastic ability to bounce back, especially when you look at the typical army - Fangs, loads of GH, Scouts, Priest (Njal in this case lol)...the boys don't really mind if you blow out the rhino's...if you placed your objectives midfield then you'll still get there... Those heavy weapons should really be shooting Long Fangs first turn or two to remove the long range threats...but by then the Hunter packs can comfortably be in range for their melta's (aggressive deployment, 12" move, 12"move and then either 6-12"range..or if necessary disembark 2.99" and then add the weapon range) so the impact of losing the fangs is less important. In addition the Scouts are coming in (one at least) from Turn 2 onwards to pressure from the back, which drives the enemy army into the waiting paws of the Wolves..

    Anyway, despite what Killswitch says..going first or not, Wolves are a great choice to comeback from a thorough 'seizing'...which TK clearly got.

    @Wisdom - Agreed. Alex hit the nail on the head...but has gone on to keep hammering! The Swiss army approach is insanely useful. LoT I have also found to be useful on occasion (only tested him out for Blog Wars 7/8 times...needs more testing I know - like another 20-odd games!)...the 3+ defense is fantastic and yes, like alot of 24" defense have found him to be out of range for a couple of turns, but once in the midfield (where Alex says he wants to be) there is no issue..typically cause the middle-ish area of the table is 24" across a 48" table...or there abouts lol it really shouldn't be a problem for Njal to be on the aggressive side of midfield so his defense and LoT works out nicely..

    I like the guy.
    I did say, and still say, he is overcosted and not efficient.
    He does work though because you can take a little inefficiency in a tight Wolves list - the rest of the boys pick up the slack in points effectiveness and off you go... I don't even think he needs to be built around- a crap ton of GH, Scouts and Fangs and done.