I've collected two Hordes armies...Legion of Everblight, and Skorne. I've focused on two casters in each: Rhyas and Absylonia for Legion; and Morghoul and Zaal for Skorne.
I'll detail the lists I'm considering, and hopefully some feedback here will help me decide!
First I want to say that I'm really not terribly comfortable with my WM/H "meta" knowledge. There are far more combinations of potential forces that an opponent can put on the table in this game than in any GW game, and they all have far more potent and game-dominating tricks than in 40k. Not knowing what an opponent's army's tricks are will result in very short one-sided games! I've played a fair amount on Vassal, and learned my way around a few of the many possible casters I may run in to, but there are SO many...it's really intimidating! I barely know my own tricks, let alone everyone else's!
Now this tournament requires players to bring two 35 point lists, both must be from the same faction, and no Character can be repeated. Normally both of my lists include Aptimus Marketh, a Character Solo that I enjoy using because he can cast one of my Warlock's spells for free very turn. Huge! I'm really torn between which of the lists would benefit the most from this, though. I also want to try to use my new Rhinodon model, which I think will be of great value in dealing with enemy infantry, even medium base stuff will suffer, I think.
I think Morghoul will probably benefit the most, as his low Fury of 5 makes him struggle to cast all the spells I want him to, plus he'll likely need to keep some to deal with enemy infantry. So with that decision made, on with what to use.
Morghoul likes Beasts, I like Beasts...a fine combination there. I love the combination of a Gladiator and Bronzeback (for the record, I think Molik Karn is stupidly broken, so I refuse to use him!), with pMorg the threat range becomes considerable (11" charge move possible), and the strength buffs from Morg and the Paingivers can boost the Bronzeback up to P+S 21. Take that, Khador! The Gladiator is not much weaker, either...with Marketh, some Paingivers, and a cooperative opponent, these two can wreck damned near any two jacks or beasts around from outside their threat range...nice! They do have a problem dealing with infantry swarms though, so that's where the Rhinodon comes in.
To go with them, I love the Cyclops Brute as a 'goalie'. He stays near Morghoul, taking the ranged shots and trying to block LOS. With his speed and reach, he's able to counter any fast flanking forces that my elephants can't keep up with. He's not particularly killy, but he'll hold down the fort for a bit!
I'm also addicted to my Cyclops Savage. His animus is SO effective, and with his speed and reach, he's able to rush ahead and tie up enemy shooting that the rest of my army will struggle to deal with. Moreover, his Falchion is powerful enough that he can contribute to putting damage on Heavy jacks, though he's a bit too squishy to deal with them alone.
Ubiquitous in Skorne beast-laden armies, some Paingivers. I like to use two units, as one can throw out buffs early in the turn, while the other then moves up to help manage fury at the end of the turn. Sadly, I don't have enough points to do this, unless I drop the Agonizer...
...but there's nothing more fun than fielding a tortured and mutilated baby elephant! My Agonizer has won more games for me than any other model, including my Bronzeback. His ability to prevent Jacks from being allocated focus can effectively neuter an enemy, allowing me to alpha-strike and prevent a decisive counter-attack. Fear the baby elephant!
So all that being said, my list looks like this:
4 Paingiver Beasthandlers
or, drop the Agonizer, and add in 4 more Paingivers. I'd love some input, here!
This army works by swift application of overwhelming force...i.e. Alpha-Strike. I need to move such that the enemy has to expose himself to a charge by the Titans while I avoid getting them charged first. With their stock 4" move, most folks think of their threat as pretty low...a mere 7". But then add in Rush from the Gladiator...and it's up to 9". Add in the spell Abuse, and that's up to 11". Not so slow now, are they?
But even better, with the Agonizer in there, if I don't think I can make the Charge, I can still run them ahead, and use the Agonizer to severely limit the damage they'll be taking. I find doing this with the Rhinodon forward has been pretty effective: the Rhino charges or tramples forward in to enemy infantry, tying them up. The Agonizer moves forward to cover the enemies that are about to counter-charge the Rhinodon, while I set up the Titans to blast whatever hits the Rhinodon. The enemy is then hopefully in a pickle...unable to deal with all the threats without exposing himself to overwhelming force.
My second Skorne caster is Zaal. Zaal likes to use the souls of the dead to empower his troops, using the power of the exalted ancestors for his own ends. He prevents any enemy from collecting souls, and allows me to choose which of my soul-collecting models get souls (as opposed to the normal rule which forces the closest model to take the soul). His Feat is a blast, too...every one of my guys that's died up to that point in the game gives me an Ancestral Rage token...and any model in my army can use those tokens on Feat turn to boost melee attacks. So the Ancestral Guardians, if full on 3 souls, can dish out 4 fully boosted attacks...the Gladiator can go crazy, dishing out his 3 initials and using his Fury to buy up to 4 more, for the potential of 7 fully boosted attacks. If I really want to get an assassination, I can throw Last Stand on him, giving him up to 7 attacks using four dice to hit and for damage. I don't think very many casters can live though that!
I need a second unit of infantry, and the options are Praetorian Swordsman with Unit Attachment, or Nihilators.
The Nihilators I've never used, but their high-powered reach berserk attacks with high MAT make them seem very attractive. If they can get a good charge in, they should be able to really decimate the enemy, lighting the load everything else has to do! Moreover, their Tough helps them survive and clog up the table if I can't charge and just have to run them in the way.
The Swordsmen I've used plenty. They have 2 more bodies (thanks to the UA, so a few more souls. They're not hard to kill, but with the UA granted Sidestep and two attacks, they're really capable at clearing out single-wound infantry. With the combo-strike, they're even able to dent heavier things on the charge.
The synergy of all those souls powering up the Guardians (especially Hakaar!), then granting ancestral rage on feat turn is pretty potent. Kovaas jumping out of a Guardian is the icing on the cake. For me, he's the prime assassination tool, as I can drive a Guardian up in front of the enemy, leave him full of souls, let the enemy kill it, then Kovaas can charge through the enemy (Incorporeal!) to get to the enemy caster/lock. If I've set it up right, I'll have Last Stand on him and use the Feat...giving him 4 attacks, Pow 14, Mat 8, with 4 dice to hit and damage...live through that!
Normally I have Marketh in there to throw around some extra spells, but Zaal packs so much Fury I often feel he's a bit wasted, so I don't think I'll miss him THAT much. Replacing him with an Agonizer frees up a point for me, but I have no idea what I might do with it. Here's the list as it stands, a point short:
Zaal (and Kovaas)
10 Praetorian Swordsman + Unit Attachment (or 10 Nihilators)
2 Ancestral Guardians
Hakaar the Destroyer
With Marketh in there instead of the Agonizer, this becomes Tier 2, giving AD to the Guardians...it's a nice Psychological weapon, but not really terrible effective, as I don't want them too far forward anyway.
With the free point to spend, I'll either get the Swamp Gobber Bellows crew to give Zaal some clouds to hide behind (which he ignores, btw...decent synergy); or the Feralgeist to keep the Gladiator up and running...again, possibly good synergy after some Last Stand action.
This army is a bit more complicated in its use than the pMorg list. I need to get my infantry forward to engage the enemy, ideally clearing out charge lanes for the Guardians. The Infantry need to die off, giving me souls on the Guardians and Rage for Feat turn. I need to time the Feat turn carefully: done too soon and I won't have enough Rage for it to make a difference; done too late, and there's not enough bodies to make use of it! Once my infantry die off, the Guardians and Hakaar are committed. They should be able to take big chunks out of enemy heavies, or tear apart lights. When they've done their work, the Gladiator and Kovaas are the cleanup.
I think the Zaal army is pretty vulnerable to heavy ranged shooting. Taking out one of the beasts early in the game could really hurt me, as I need them to generate the full 7 Fury every turn. For this reason, I think I'll be picking up the Swamp Gobber Bellows crew to use with this list.
Legion of Everblight
I love the Legion stuff. I'm not crazy about the Carnivean-based models, but Typhon, the flying dragons, the little guys, the warlocks....all great. The long-faced Nyss strike me, for some reason...and I love the Ogrun.
Absylonia was my second caster. I was really impressed with an army I fought against on Vassal, messed around with it myself, and was hooked on the incredible damage output, high defense, speed, and versatility of her tier list.
I have experimented with a lot of different ways to build this list. One of my favorites includes Typhon and a Ravagore...but since Typhon can only be in one of my lists, and he needs to be in the second he's out.
So here's the list I think I'll be using:
Absylonia does almost nothing for infantry, so this is very beast heavy. The Fury management is intense, with the Forsaken and Shepherd able to absorb a tremendous amount of Fury as needed. There's a solid ranged element with the Angelius and Seraph. A great toolbox of Animi (Tenacity, Slipstream, Slaughterhouse, Repulsion, Shadow Shift, True Strike) combined with Absy's arsenal of Upkeeps making the Angelius Def 17, giving the Raek open hands for free power attacks, giving the Scythean +2 to hit in melee and the Forsaken's ability to bomb single wound infantry or buy/boost to kill (or at least severely weaken) larger based models. The Shepherd can force beasts, giving me ability to swing things wide to open the field. This army actually does very well in Scenario play...able to quickly dominate one scoring location then zipping over to contest another. If I had to choose just one force to take, it would be this one. This list is also Tier 4, giving Advance Deploy to the Shredders and Harrier, and the heavy beasts get an Advance Move. This lets me start projecting force on Turn 1...very potent!
So, here's the list in total:
10 Nyss Swordsmen with Unit Attachment
3 Ogrun Warmongers
3 Ogrun Warspears (or Warmongers...undecided)