Thursday 5 March 2015

The Army of the Jade Throne: Looking at the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd Edition Slann army list.

In this weeks blog update I am going to look in depth at the Slann Army list for 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle which was published in the Warhammer Armies Supplement.

The Slann are one of my favourite armies and races of 2nd/3rd Edition (I never played 1st Edition, but if I had they would be too!) and also they are one of my larger armies. So, I have decided to focus on getting my Slann army finished and painted, leaving my Lord of the Rings Orc army for another time. The abstract idea behind this post to to look at the construction, options, flavour, and overall make up of the army and analyse it's releative strengths and weaknesses.

My plan is to give suggestions based on my observations and gaming experience which may be either useful for people considering starting a Slann army, facing a Slann army, or which are just interesting for the people in general. This will be the first in an irregular series of updates on each of main races armies from the Warhammer Armies book, all of which I have at least a 3,000 point army.


For those of you unaware, the Slann of 3rd Edition (and earlier) were the descendants of space aliens who came to settle on the contient of Lustria, on the Warhammer World. Like later editions, their civilisation had long since degenerated into a les advanced state, and now their Empire was under attack from settlers and looters from the Old World, mainly Humans, Elves and Dwarves.

Unlike in later editions of Warhammer the Slann were the dominant race and Lizardmen were a smaller subject peoples. So a typical Slann army would be made up of actual Slann Warriors, as well as Mages, although a few Lizardmen could be present.

The design concept of the Slann was largely the same as later editions. Their civilsation is loosly based on the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca, with a good dash of Von Daniken  As a result the overall approach of the army list is Pre-Colombian, with a mix of Elite Warrior societies and tribal levies. Most of the army is lightly armoured and equiped, mostly infantry (although the Slann have Cold One Riding Cavalry, something not usually found in Pre-Colombian America) and are armed with various Aztec looking weapons such as the macuahuitl/macana. There was a pre-curser to this army list in White Dwarf #96, in the "Slann o' War" article too, something else I may cover at a later date.
The released Slann miniature ranges can be found here:

The Army List.

Army Selection. 

Nothing too out of the ordinary in the army selection. The things to note are:
  1. that at least half of the army must be Rank and File. Some of the other armies only have a third minimum, so this makes the Slann slightly more of troops army, at least in points value.
  2. Up to a maximum of six Wizards, which is quite high (apart from the Wood Elves with eight).
Other things to note in the army selection are that the Slann do not hire Mercenaires, and they do not use Ethereal Hosts (or Chaotic ones of course!).


As noted the Slann army is allowed to have a up to half the points value allocated to them, with at least one hero bhaving to be present. Number wise the army could contain up to 15 Slann heroes, and 5 Lizardmen heroes.

Now Lizardman Heroes can only be used in Lizardman or Troglodyte units, or if a level 20 or 25 as independent characters. This means that you would only have 15 heroes for the rest of the Slann army. This might sound fine but it is compartively low when you compare it with some of the other armies. For example the Wood Elves can 24, the Dark Elves, and the Dwarves 33! However, adding a couple of Lizardmen to their unit or having independent heroes does push it beyond The Empire Army's 16, and the High Elves 18.


Up to a maximum of 6 Slann Wizards (although no Lizardman ones) can be taken. Slann Wizards are blessed with a great knowlege of magic and the arcane, and so have no restirctions on the type of magic they can perform. This is great, epecaially for gaining access to all the different area of dispelling magics, which can come in really useful , or the "err, go away spells" as I like to refer to them!

Slann Wizards are very spiritual and finely attuned creatures and as a consequence are so are not very keen on walking. According to Warhammer Armies...

Magical Equipment.

The allocation of magical equipment and weapons is fairly standard for a Slann Army.
  •  Any hero can have a magical weapon, with one ablity per 'Level', for example a Level 15 Hero can have a weapon with three ablities.
  • The Army Standard can have two magical ablities.
  •  Wizards can have up to three Scrolls each, level 3 or lower;. 
  • Two characters can have Magical Armour; two characters may have a Magic Ring, level 2 or lower. 
The only thing not consistent with other armies is the complete lack of access to magical missiles.

Rank and File.

For ease of analysis I am going to look at each of the army entries on a 'pro's and 'con's basis. Sorry if that approach seems a little crude, but there are a lot of things to write.

The overall approach to the rank and file of the Slann army is primarily infantry based, and those infantry are largely Elites. This is in keeping with the more Aztec feel of 3rd Edition Slann armies, who also had their Warrior Clans and Orders.  The sheer number of Elites are the most in any 3rd Edition army, more in numbers (204 Shock Elite, 20 Missile Elite) than even the Dwarves (100 Shock Elite), High Elves (105 Shock, with 5 on Dragons admittedly!, and 50 Misslile Elite), or Bretonnians (180 Shock Elite, although they are all on Horseback!).

Slann equipment is fairly standard when compared to other armies, the main difference being missile weapons. Slann don't use bows of any kind, but use Blowpipes, Darts, and Javelins. Darts and Javelins turn a lot of the Shock Troops into a form of poor missile troops. The really useful weapon is the Blowpipe, although with a BS2 (3 for the Venom Elites) and the short range, means they have to be used very tacitcally, but can be devestating if they are.
The other main difference is the strange absence of spears in the infantry. The only infantry to get them are the Lizardmen. The Aztecs/Maya/Inca, and the 1st/2nd Edition Slann used them. I can only assume they were not included either to balance out the army, or they were fogotten about, especally as only a few of the slotta era Slann had spears/polearms.

Bull Slann Riders.

+2 Shock Elite Slann mounted on a Cold One, both of which are quite useful. Equipment wise the spears are decent enough for mounted troops, and light armour and shields useful too. A 5-10 unit size is flexible.
Cold Ones, for all their faults, as listed below, are still good in melee, and a fear causing creature. In addition, any blow struck by them causes -2 to an enemy save. Also, due to the fact they smell, enemy hits are at a -1 to hit.
They do look awesome on the table, and can focus the mind of an opponent to kill them, whilst ignoring something else.

 Cold Ones suprsingly. Despite their fearsome reputation, Cold Ones are difficult to use in 3rd Edition. This is because before you make your first charge with Cold Ones you have to write down your intention to charge and target in the turn before, and then they need to by 'whipped up into a fury' first. This means you have to wait a turn before you can charge, which exposes the unit to enemy shooting or counter measures (like moving out of range). In addtion, once engaged, Cold Ones can't break off combat, but must fight until the enemy is destroyed, so they might end up pursuing off the table. So unless they are lucky and kill everything quickly, they are somewhat 'fire and forget'. 
In addition, they are subject to stupidity.

Point value wise, they are very expensive (equiped with spear and light armour = 37 points each). This is a mixed fault, in that they are only a little more expensive than other elite cavalry, and actually cheaper than Empire Temple Ritterbruden. 

Warrior Priests.

+4 Shock Elite, and subject to frenzy. They also have access to Magical Standards and Musical Instruments. And with 100 point limit, they can have some of the snazzer ones!

You only get 10. Only able to have shields as armour. Whilst subject to Frenzy, a Cool of 9 means it won't happen often.

Eagle Warriors.

+3 Shock Elite. The can have double handed weapons, and have ok armour, as well as one unit having access to Magical Standards and Musical Instruments, up to 75 point for the standards.

You get 30, but you have a maximum unit size of 20. Now this is always been strange to me in that you either have to have one unit of 20, and one of 10, or two units of 15.

Jaguar Warriors.

+2 Shock Elite, with resonable weapons and armour, and again Magical Standards and Musical Instruments options for one unit, a little less in points than the Eagle Warriors, but in keeping with the idea of a Warrior Order hierachy.
They do have the option of Javelins, which have a better range than Darts. 
They look good painted up as well. :)
Again the unit size issue, and lack of other weapon options,  but other than that work well as a unit.

Alligator Warriors. 
+1 Shock Elite. 
Heavy Armour, allowing a 5,6 save without a shield. When combined with the weapons options of double handed weapons, or an additional hand weapons, this comes in useful. Alternatively they can be given shields to make them heavy infantry. Again,  Magical Standards and Musical Instruments are available too. 

Very few beyond the unit size issue again. They are a versatile and well equiped unit, although they don't have access to Darts or Javelins. 
I was never a great fan of this model sculpt, but it works fine for each of the three weapon options, and a shield can be glued on with ease.

Bull Slann.

60 +1 Shock Elite, which can be fielding in flexable sized units. 
I have found that the Bull Slann allows you to field regiments of the same miniature, or if you don't have that, then regiments with a themed colour/shield. This can look visually striking on the table, and be a great use if you have multiples of any particular model. 
As they are from the same Spawning, I have found that choosing one flesh tone/colour for them all can give a certain unity to the regiments, and also allows you to paint up a unit in a rare skin colour. 

Apart from Darts, you have not other weapon options.

Venom Tribes.

+1 Missile Elite!
 With a BS2 Slann are awful at shooting, and with -1 over half range for the blowpipe (that shooting over 6 inches!!) so the BS3 is great. Add to that the useful armour options, the poisoned attacks, and the blowpipe itself, it is a 'must have' unit for any Slann army. 
And they can skirmish too. :)
Leaving aside the rules, if you paint them up according to the description in the text, then you can have a striking looking red or red and black mottled unit. 

They are great, but not Wood Elves with Lornalim Long-Bows! They need to be used carefully, or they will die quite quickly, or at best run away. They are very useful on flanks and picking off targets. 
Also, for a blowpipe armed jungle army I was disappointed that you only get 20 of them.

Slann Scouts.

 Scouts are always useful to take pot-shots and getting in the way, stopping enemy reserve moves, and hiding in places. They have a verstile unit size, and good range of weapon options for their role.
Being Scouts from the jungle you can paint up small units in quite striking flesh colour reminscent of tropical frogs, which looks great on the tabletop. 

Again, not many of them for a jungle based army. Also, no light armour option depsite several of the minatures (pre/slotta) having armour.

Spawn Bands.

Good, standard troops.
 Good minimum and maximum numbers allowed, and unit size.
Option of equipping them with double handed weapons as well.
As a modelling subject, the Spawn Bands allow you to put all the Slann miniatures not required for other units in here, and create a quite diverse looking uint. As they are a miltia you can use a mix of flesh tones and colours, as well as clothing and shield devices. Once done they look really good and are the heart of any Slann army. 

Poor weapon options, and no Darts.
 Personally I would have preferred to have the light armour as an option rather than standard as many Slann minatures don't have armour meaning you have to scource a good number of Slann that do.

Jungle Braves.

Cheap at 5 points, and you can have loads of them. 
Also, you can have Blowpipe and Darts. With a BS1 this might seem odd, but having missile weapons means you can use them as a cheap skirmish screen for other units. 
Painting wise you can pick from a wide selection of colour schemes from tropical frogs, and have a very visually stiking series of units, which are fun to paint. 

They are awful. They can't hit anything with a BS1, and WS 2 means they don't do great in melee. Also, I have found that with Ld7 rather than 8, they are prone to running away or panicing. 
Again the lack of spears, which makes WS2 Goblins more viable, is not an option. Also, the maximum unit size of 20 means that they cannot rely on big unit size to make up for they lack of battle prowess.

Lobotomised Human Slaves.

Basic Human profiles, which provides a good source of cheap points infantry. 
They look interesting on the battlefield against all the brightly coloured Slann, and are an iconic unit for the army.

They are'nt very good in combat. Like the Warrior Suit Wearers they have the maximum number of 30 but unit size of 20, forcing you to choose 2 or 3 smaller units, or one of 20 and another of 10. 
They are also subject to stupidity, and must be led by a Slann hero. As there is pressure on the supply of Slann Heroes for the army, is tends to be lower level heroes leading the Slaves. If the hero dies, then the unit just stands there doing nothing (unless in melee). 
They are poorly equiped, but they are Slaves, so that is'nt an issue.


It's a big Lizardman causing fear, reducing opponents armour save by -1, and are smelly meaning that enemy hits are at -1, and they ignore fear and panic.
They have excellent personal characteristics (except int), S4, and W2, and they have access to double handed weapons which add that extra punch. 
They are also another visually impressive looking unit. Giant Lizardmen on 40mm bases do have quite a good battlefield presence, and lend themselves to striking painting. 
With a unit size of 1-5, you can field just one or two if you wanted. 

They are subject to stupidity. The don't have the basic save of 6 which Lizardman have. If they are to be led, it must be by a Lizardman, not a Slann, as they don't get on with the Slann (it is a drawback, but it's a nice background addition). Most Lizardmen are Int5, which is'nt really much of an improvment to the Troglodytes Intellegence.
Not a lot of weapon options.
Despite the good fighting profile, the only difference between them and the Lizardmen is an increase by 1 of Strength and Attacks, and yet it costs an extra 16 point per model.

Lizardmen Warriors.

2 Wounds, a scaley skin giving a basic save of 6, immune to Fear and Panic, unaffected by smelly Troglodytes, and T4. They have an option of spears. 
Good perosnal Characteristics, apart from Int. 
Fun to paint too, with lots of skin colours to choose from.

Limited weapon and armour options, despite thier spears.
You only get 20 of them, although in 3rd edition they were a lot rarer in the World than later editions of Warhammer. 
They are expensive in points. I know they have 2 Wounds, Toughness 4, and a basic save of 6, but so does a Beastman in light armour for 12 points. I can assume tha tthe extra points are due to the immunity to fear and panic. Still a basic unit of 20 with spears, shields, and a standard is 504 points.

Slann Animal Handlers.

Good armour options.
You have the choice of some fearsome beasts, which will look awesome on the table top and most likely inflict some damage too! 

4 Handlers is'nt many, again considering the Slann live in the jungles where these creature live. The Wood Elves have 6, Chaos, Skaven, and Dark Elves all have the option of 8.

Slann War Altar.
All the rules for the War Altar concerning Leadership Tests, and Close Combat resolution. In addition you can have up to 100 point Magical Standard, and it can be mounted on a litter to allow your +4 Shock Elite Guard to guard it! They are also immune to routing and all psychology if within 6 inches of it.
It is also a great chance for conversions and a centre piece for the army.

Not many except that the Altar Guards, being subject to Frenzy may chase off after an enemy and leave the thing unguarded. Other than that it is a missile magnet and the guards can often be killed or the littler immoblised. Also if the War Altar is desecrated then all friendly units within 12 inches must take a rout test. 

Other than that the only really problem is one of crowding. I found that by giving the War Altar a Magical Talismanic Standard, meant that most of my Slann Mages had to keep near it, creating a Slave Litter traffic jam!

 The Slann have access to a lot of potiental skirmishing troops, which can be used to good effect to screen other units, or to maximise the number of Blowpipe shots from a unit.

 Baggage trains were not often used in many of the 3rd Edition games in my experiance. If they are to be seen now, it is often in a Dwarf, Empire or Bretonnian army as someone has some of the townsfolk miniature and a cart or two. 
It is always great to see baggage trains in armies. The Slann baggage train is twice the size of other armies, and not a modelling project to be lightly undertaken, a 3,000 point army requiring 30 miniatures! Leaving aside the practicality of this, it does take up a lot of room on a gaming table.
Apart from the Pygmies, the Slann cannot use any other other Allies. 
I have not included the Pygmy Ally list here for the sake of brevity, and that once I have completed paiting them, they will get an update of thier own. 
Suffice to say, you can get a lot of Pygmies for the third of the points value of an army. They are'nt very good in melee, but you can get a lot of Blowpipe armed Pygmies, which are a useful addition.

 Hosts are an often overlooked entry in the army lists. Leaving aside binding rules which affect every army, I think hosts are a great way of adding some interesting miniatures to an army.
The Slann have access to an interesting collection of monsters. Of special note is the option for two Dragons, which only the High Elves also have. I like the Giant Leeches option, which given their special rule for hiding in trees means you can set up a lovely ambush for Wood Elves or Forstjaeger who think that they are safe in the woods!
Other than Dragons and Giant Leeches, Giant Scorpions and Giant Spiders are useful monster to consider in a bound Host.


Slann are awesome! But I would say that would'nt I! LOL
In all seriousness however, the Slann are an interesting army to consider. 

They are a mainly infantry army, and have limited weapon options. However have access to some interesting troop types, and large number of the Slann are Elites. Although lacking in bows, blowpipes are an excellent weapon if used wisely. The Cold One cavalry are fearsone, if tricky to use, and have a +2 Elite Slann riding them.

Also, there is the Slann's basic profile. The Slann (and all the other troops in the army except Slaves) have a toughness 4. This is really useful and means that they can often shrug off a lot of bow shots, as they require a 5,6 to wound. In this way I consider the Slann to be comparible to Orcs, a tough army which does well if got into melee as soon as possible. Slann, unlike Orcs, have the benefit of not suffering Amnosity, and have the added advantage of Ld8.  

The drawback to the Slann's profile is BS2. This is'nt as a problem as it first seems as they are not an army which relies on missile weapons. Also, blowpipe are a close range weapon, so you'll be in close to use them anyway. As an aside, the blowpipe has D6 strength, so you might end up inflicting Strength 6 wounds on a unit (or 1's!).

Concerning the general rules it is important to remember that water is your friend. Slann can cross rivers, streams, and lakes without movement penalty. This can come as quite a shock to an enemy who is on the otherside of a river or guarding a bridge. In addition, Slann in the water are counted as being in hard cover, and so are -2 to hit, and can use thier blowpipes as normal. Very useful when moving across bodies of water under fire. A great tactic is to get blowpipe armed Slann skirmishers/Scouts into the water so they are -3 to hit and can take pot shots at an enemy.

Away from purely gaming, a Slann army can be visually striking and exotic looking. The Slann themselves are mostly greens, blue, or yellow skinned, but you can take inspiration from tropical frogs to create some colourful units. In addition, the scource material from the Aztecs/Maya/Inca can provide some great colourful paint schemes for clothing, feathers, and shield designs. Also, the models lend themselves to convsersions, most notably with headdresses and standards. Finally, the background idea of the Slann, as a declining civilisation of the descendents of space aliens, is pretty cool, which is probably why GW re-visited the idea in the 1990's. 
 The one thing I have'nt mentioned about the Slann is getting hold of them. I was lucky enough to have collected a Slann army in the 1980's, and have been adding to it ever since. Not a lot of people collected Slann, and so the second hand market is small, and those for sale are usually expensive. Even a small army of would be costly with individual Slann prices ranging from £3 to £15 on e-bay, with Mages on Litters a lot more, but there are still bargains occasionally. I will be doing an update on alternative miniautres to use to build a Slann army in another update. 

 The aim of this update was to examine the 3rd Edition Slann army as it is not always an army which people are familiar with. The Slann before the 1990's re-vamp as 'The Lizardmen' had several common aspects to their successor, but also had their own old Warhammer charm and appeal. I have always enjoyed the Slann, and with the growth in the popularity of 'Oldhammer' and interest in older miniautres, I hope this update has been a useful and interesting guide for people. 

(Legal bit: any artwork or bits of Warhammer Armies used are only for explaining the army list, and belong to GW, or John Blanche, or someone, but not me, so no challenge intended).


  1. Very interesting. Any chance that you provide the same kind of analysis for the other armies?

    1. Thank you Jaeckel.
      I do plan on doing a breakdown of each of the armies in the Warhammer Armies books. I own at least 3,000 points of each of the armies,althuogh still need to paint up three of them, but I plan on doing an analysis for each of them in turn.

  2. Awesome article And ananalysis.

  3. Such an excellent and concise article, your analysis can only be defined as expert.
    Their access to animal handlers only increases their appeal, for me at least. Access to giant spiders is just too great to pass up.
    It's a damned shame I wasn't into 3rd edition backin the 80's as I've always enjoyed the less popular armies.
    Thanks for posting and I look forward to your skaven analysis however, be warned; if u contradict andy chambers army article some may seek vengeance. I look forward to reading your report at some point Sir.

    1. Thank you for your praise, I am glad you liked the analysis. I thought I would try something a little different as a blog update and it seems to have been popular. It was great fun to do too!

      I have been gaming with Slann since 1987, and with this list since it came out in 1988, and wanted to break down the list into how I saw it and how it played. Also I thought it was important to do both a comparative analysis with other lists, and to add my thoughts on other aspects of the the army such as the overall feel and look of the army. I tried to this without it becoming either one long hymn of praise or a list of bemoanings, but a balanced look.

      I agree, Giant Spiders, and for me Giant Scorpions too, are too good a thing to miss when constructing a Slann army. Don't forget you can have Giant Spiders in bound Hosts. I wanted to give an idea of the flavour and workings of an army for which many people are'nt familar with, but is very much in keeping with the first three editions of Warhammer.

      As for the other army lists, I still intend on an irregular basis to do the same for all of the other ten army lists, with passing reference to some of the Ally and Mercenary lists.
      I have both experience either playing as or against all of the other armies in the book, and have at least a 3,000 point army of each of them. My only gap in knowlege are the Skaven, . Whilst I have an army of them for 3rd Edition, I had never fought or used them. I did refer to the Andy Chambers army article when compiling the army, so I should hopefully be safe from vengence. :)

  4. Interesting read Lee,

    Thanks for the breakdown :)

    1. Thank you the one,
      glad you enjoyed the breakdown and found it useful. I wanted to look at each of the parts of the army list to examine their particular strengths and weaknesses, and in turn how it builds to affect the army as a whole.

    2. Where is the page of your blog with high elves?

  5. Thanks! I will be using this to plan my army. I have had the figures since the 80s but never painted them when the army went out of style. Now that we are all playing Oldhammer it is time they rise from oblivion.

    1. Great, glad the blog article will be of use to you. :)
      It would be great to see your progress with the Slann, always good to see another Slann army and other peoples approach to it.