Celestial Dracolines

Celestial Dracolines
Three Evocators on Dracolines, and Astreia Solbright (a Lord-Arcanum on Dracoline) take on some Seraphon as Dazmaul's 2022 Tournament in Daventry

Dracolines have some cool looking models, but they don't seem to be used much competitively. Indeed, I'm the only person I've seen playing them at a tournament. Why? As the warscroll says

Dracolines are fearsome beasts of Azyr whose roars can unman even the staunchest foes. When their savagery is allied with the magical prowess of an Evocator, the result is a force to be reckoned with.

Evocators On Dracolines

The basic Evocator on Dracoline moves 12", has 5 wounds, 8 bravery, and a 4+ save. They come in groups of 3, so a mimimum of 15 wounds in the unit. The dracoline itself attacks with it's claws, the rider has the choice of either a Tempest Blade and Stormstave, or for 2 of 3 models: a Grandstave. All the weapons only have a reach of 1".

Weapon Attacks To Hit To Wound Rend Damage
Tempest Blade and Stormstave 4 3+ 3+ -1 1
Grandstave 3 3+ 3+ - 2
Monstrous Claws 3 3+ 3+ -1 D3

In addition, after the first time the unit fights in a phase, the Celestial Lightning Arc special ability kicks in. Roll 3 dice for each model in the unit (whether in range on an enemy model or not), and each 4+ gives a mortal wound to be applied to any enemy unit within 3" of the Dracoline unit.

Evocators on Dracolines come in units of 3 for 280 points. One model can be an Evocator-Prime who gets an extra attack with his melee weapon.

There are two other special abilities:

  1. Thunderous Pounce Can reroll all charge rolls for this unit
  2. Empower A spell which can be cast on and friendly Redeemer or Sacrosanct unit within 12" on a casting value of 6, which gives +1 to wound.

It's worth noting that while there are at least 2 models in the unit, it's a Wizard - so can cast a spell (only Empower), and can also unbind. In this state the model can also take advantage of the Lauchon the Soulseeker endless spell.

What's good?

Celestial Lightning is cool. For a unit of 3, that's an expected 4.5 mortal wounds, which can be assigned after you know the result of the evocator's first combat that turn.

  • Didn't quite take out the unit you wanted to? Give them some more mortal wounds to finish them off.
  • It's gone? Drop those mortals into a nearby hero.

Charge rerolls are convenient - that gives a 50% chance of making a charge out of deepstrike, rather than the standard 25%. Not quite enough to rely on, but it makes deepstriking Dracolines a good choice.

While not up to the levels of charging Fulminators, damage can beat a unit of Concussors. For example, against chainrasp horde you can expect to inflict 14 wounds from a unit of 3 dracolines, compared to 8.5 from a unit of Concussors.

Comparison of damage inflicted in one turn by Fulminators and Evocators on Dracolines, against a save of 4+

In the chart above blue represents a unit of 2 charging Fulminators, orange is 2 non-charging Fulminators, purple is a unit of 2 concussors, and green a unit of 3 Evocators on Dracolines. The x-axis axis reflects total number of wounds inflicted including the misile weapons for the dracothion guard, and the y-axis is the probabilty.

Three Evocators on Dracolines take on a solitary Stormdrake Guard at the Hampshire GT 2022

Lauchon the Soulseeker is potentially a killer mobility piece which synergises well. For 50 points you get an endless spell with a casting value of6 and a range of 6". Before the controlling player moves it, a Wizard unit wholly within 3" can be removed from the battlefield. After Lauchon moves up to 18" that wizard can be redeployed with 3" of the spell, and 9" away from enemies. The cost for this is inflicting one mortal wound on the wizard. Unlike almost every other form of teleporting, the wizard can then move in the subsequent hero phase - and dracolines have a 12" move, so can get right in the face of a unit which is 9" away. This gives a potential threat range of 18" from Lauchon, plus a 12" move and a 12" charge... so 30" is very safe and 42" is possible. With carge rerolls for the dracolines, there's a 50% chance of getting into melee with a unit which starts 39" away.

What's not so good?

The save of only 4+ seems weak. Looking at the armour clad rider, I'd have thought 3+ would be more appropriate - especially at 280 points for 3.

Evocator's aren't battleline in any subfaction - which means you're always having to take 3 other battleline units. The sacrosanct chamber in general hasn't done very well in 3rd edition AoS. It seems that maybe there should be a subfaction where they can shine.

Evocators on Dracolines work well in movement - with a 12" move (possibly supplemented with Lauchon) and a rerollable charge they can fly across the board. There is however no way to make them retreat and charge. One little hobgrot could tie up a whole unit of Dracolines, effectively neutralising them for a turn.

Lord-Arcanums on Dracolines

Generic and Specific

There are two Stormcast heros on Dracolines, the generic Lord-Arcanum (200 points), and the unique character Astreia Solbright who is a Lord-Arcanum from the Hammers of Sigmar (195 points).

Astreia Solbright, Lord Arcanum of the Hammers of Sigmar, on her Dracoline Kazra

The share some characteristics. They are both move 12", 8 wounds, and save 3+ (like the Evocators on Dracolines should be!). The generic lord arcanum gets a bravery of 8, compared to Astreia's 10. Their weapon profiles are the same:

Weapon Attacks To Hit To Wound Rend Damage
Aetherstave 4 3+ 3+ -1 2
Monstrous Claws 3 3+ 3+ -1 D3

Though note the generic Lord-Arcanum actually comes out better as his Pack Alpha ability adds 1 to the attacks characteristic of friendly Dracoline Monstrous Claws within 12" - including his own.

They both get Cycle of the Storm (once per turn healing a wound to a friendly stormcast model just as they die, keeping them on the table - at least until the next wound is applied), and rerolling charges via Thunderous Pounce. TJhey are both one cast wizards... full wizards, not the restricted warscroll spell only wizards of the Evocators.

The differences between them are that Astreia tends to be more defensive, with an ability to add 1 to save rolls for Hammers of Sigmar Sacrosanct units, and a spell which subtracts 1 from hits rolls with 6"; wheras the generic Lord-Arcanum is more aggressive, with Pack Alpha, and a mortal wound inducing spell.

Summary

Dracolines are fun to play, albeit probably slightly overcosted while the save remains at 4+ on the Evocators. The rerollable charge is useful, as is their speed and ability to unbind spells. The ability to decide where to put mortal wounds after knowing the outcome of combat is compelling.

Of the Lord-Arcanums, the generic model synergises better, giving the Evocator Dracolines extra attacks. Astreia Solbright gives good defensives buffs to any sacrosanct units, but currently most sacrosanct units aren't good competitive choices.