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 7 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?