I've decided which Hordes army I'll be leading in the upcoming Steamroller event at Brothers Grim on Dec 3rd...Skorne!
I tend to shy away from the more "popular" or "powerful" casters and beasts. I'm not going to use Karn (I just don't want to be "that guy"), and I'm going to stick with pMorghoul and Zaal...not weak casters at all, just not something I generally see thought of as "top-tier" competitive.
Which is not to say that I'm not trying to be competitive, I'm just trying to do so while breaking the mold. Swim against the stream, says I!
I think my Absylonia Legion force is pretty tough against most matchups, but with only Rhyas as my second caster choice I don't have any good answers. The only thing that Rhyas list really has going for it is surprise, as few folks will be all that familiar with how she works.
Of course, that's the same idea I'm using with Zaal here, too...but I think the Zaal list has a lot more "oomph" than just tricks!
So here's the first force I'm going to take:
Here's the list:
Zaal & Kovaas
10 Praetorian Karax
2 Ancestral Guardians
Hakaar the Destroyer
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
Zaal & Kovaas
For those that don't know Zaal, he's really in to extolling the spirits of the dead, particularly exalted ancestors, to support the battle. He controls where souls go, bypassing the normal "closest model" getting the soul, and preventing enemy models from collecting souls (sorry, Cryx!). He can spend a fury to put souls on all Guardians (including Hakaar). He can transfer damage to a Guardian. His feat allows his army to use the souls of models that have died in the battle to boost melee attacks. His spells support infantry pretty well, with Last Stand and Inviolable Resolve being very solid.
Also, he can cause the spirit of an exalted ancestor to manifest when it's Guardian is destroyed, releasing a Kovaas. The Kovaas has a healthy MAT8, with POW14 Reach attack, Thresher, and is Incorporeal. I've had great success with him being deployed in my opponents turn, then enjoying charging through enemy units to assassinate the enemy caster/lock on Feat turn (ideally with Last Stand, too!).
My Kovaas is painted, but Zaal is only wearing a coat of old primer. I've not given any thought to how I'd paint him up...I mean, it's Skorne, so Red, Gold, Black, and some strange flesh-color, right?
Gladiator & Brute
Zaal's spells don't do too much for Beasts, in my opinion. The only beast-centric spell allows a beast to use it's animus without being forced. Spiffy, but not something I'd find myself using too often. I'd rather spend the points on more infantry and Guardians, but as a Warlock he needs Fury.
The Gladiator is, in my opinion, a very solid beast for his points. His animus, Rush, gives him a little bit of reach, with a 9" charge move, while his Mat 6 and Pow 18 fists and Pow 17 Tusks give him a very respectable ability to deal damage. He's the heaviest hitter I have in here, which may cause me to struggle with this list versus something like Khador with lots of Heavies. Still, for 8 points he's a super solid beast and fury-generator.
The Brute is Zaal's bodyguard. He stays close, taking the occasional bullet for Zaal, not letting Zaal get knocked down, and engaging anything that gets through the wall of infantry. His power is low, but with two attacks including one with reach, he's very capable of dealing with cavalry or infantry that try a cheeky assassination run.
Both of these models are painted. My Brute is clearly not really a Brute model, but a Savage that I stuck a shield on and called good enough.
Their primary purpose in this army is, sadly (for them), to die. I want their Souls to feed the Guardians, and for use on Feat turn. But they add a lot more. They're a nice brick to hide behind from enemy shooting. They're individually "pants", but can CMA to make for a pretty potent poke. Having Reach lets them break formation, scatter and really tie up the enemy's movement. Some tricks: Cast Last Stand on them, do a CMA or two (or three!)...the extra attack and damage dice are applied, but since only one model is actually performing the attack action, only one model (from each CMA) dies. And as I've said before, I really like how the like...very "300" I think.
These guys are painted already, looking pretty striking, despite the sloppy paintjob.
These guys are something I've wanted to try for awhile, but have just now gotten assembled and ready to use. I've tried them (in pMorg list) on Vassal one time, where I killed 2 of my own, 3 enemy, and died to some shooting and counter assault. While not a thrilling first-use, I liked how they worked, and am diving in to use them with my Zaal force.
They are replacing the Preatorian Swordsmen I'd had in there before. I can't really see much in favor of the Swordsmen over the Nihilators. The Nihilators have one less armor, but Tough. Swordsmen have Overtake (with UA), but Nihilators don't need it (with Reach)...yes, it can be used to make/break charge lanes, but I don't think I'll miss it. Swordsmen with UA have the auto-wound mini-feat, which is nice against high Arm single-wound models (Trolls!), but with Pow 12, they're putting a hurt on them anyway most likely...and if one guy doesn't kill it, the guy next to him well. Add in Berserk, and I think the Nihilators are resoundingly better. They'll die to give up Souls just as easily, but likely do a lot more damage before they go out, which is fine by me!
These guys are, sadly, not even primed. I think there was a speed-painting article for them in NQ36...time to look that up!
Ancestral Guardians and Haakar
These guys are really the guts of the army. With the souls generated by the dieing Karax and Nihilators, these guys have tremendous damage dealing potential. With their Pow 13 Reach weapons and high Mat (8 for the regular Guardians, 9!!! for Hakaar), they can use the souls they have to buy attacks and boost damage...boosting to hit will not likely be required! They also sport Magic attacks, something many Hordes armies lack.
With Souls from Zaal and the Infantry, and Zaal's Feat to kick them up another notch, these guys are fearsome enough...add in that when one of them dies out pops a Kovaas, and it goes to a whole new level. There are a lot of ways I can force this to happen...Last Stand comes to mind, but even simpler push one of them in the way of something big and force the enemy to kill it for me.
I like how the painting came out on these guys. The intent was for them to look like stone statues...done! I'd like to get some more work done on the gems, but that will have to be later. Triage!
The poor little tortured mutilated baby elephant is by far my favorite Skorne unit. Yeah, I know...I have issues. His ability to almost completely shut down enemy Jacks (by preventing them being allocated Focus) is incredible. Taking away enemy Warbeast's Animi is pretty spiffy too, as well as making them all -2 Str, depending on the situation.
As if that weren't enough, his ability to store some Fury for later turns is a great benefit if a Warbeast is lost early. Maybe not enough, but if it gives one last chance to pull out the assassination, great!
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew
Now up until now I'd used Marketh instead of the Agonizer with Zaal. For this upcoming tournament, I can't repeat the Characters, so had to choose if I wanted to use Marketh with Zaal or Morghoul. I figured with his more limited Fury, Morghoul would appreciate the free spell more than Zaal. Putting the Agonizer in seemed like a solid choice, but left me one point to spend...so out come the Gobbers! I figure having a 5" cloud to hide behind seemed a really solid idea, particularly since Zaal does not need line of sight for any of his attacks or spells!
Note to self: must make 3" and 5" cloud markers!
So the army as a whole I tend to use in 3 "waves"...the Infantry take the lead, running or charging to get some kills in and tie up the enemy. The Guardians go right behind them, soaking up their souls as they die off, and charging in to melee in the vacant spots left by the dead infantry. These guys in turn make a charge lane for the Gladiator to get a nice Slam or Charge to attempt assassination; or the Kovaas can do the same on Feat turn. I've been pretty successful with this army, though I feel it's definitely got weakness.
-Reach! Almost everything in the army has Reach!
-Magic Attacks. The Guardians, Kovaas, and Zaal all have magic attacks.
-Lots of Bodies. It's hard to kill off that many infantry before they clog up the works and allow the rest of my army to get engaged
-Tricky. Zaal's got tricks! His Feat turn can be utterly devastating. An unprepared opponent will be beat down by a Gladiator with Last Stand on Feat turn (that's up to 7 attacks with 4-dice to hit and damage)
-Big Control Area. Fury 7 is nice!
-Slow! Not a lot of speed in this army, as it trudges across the table at Spd 5. Low threat ranges, hard to counter fast enemy movement.
-Vulnerable to Shooting. It moves slow, has only the Gobbers to protect from enemy shooting, and low Def making for an unpleasant time vs. fast shooty armies.
-Overall low POW. Might struggle vs. high Armor armies
I'd love to hear more experienced player's opinions on the Pros and Cons of this army!
For my second force, I look to my first Warlock ever...Prime Morghoul!
Morghoul likes beasts, so I've tried to not disappoint him. Hopefully a good mix of abilities to deal with a wide range of foes, this has been my "go-to" army for awhile now, though Absylonia is a lot of fun for all the tricks her and her beasties bring, there's something to be said for just sheer outright power! Here's the list:
4 Paingiver Beasthandlers
Master Tormenter Morghoul
I still haven't really decided if this guy is really a guy...he's a bit swishy, has those gaudy fingernails, likes the low-cut dress...but either way, his sadistic nature allows him to push his beasts to the limit and beyond! His Feat shuts down enemy Casters and Locks for a turn, potentially shutting down a Warmachine army completely (since the Caster can't give any Focus to his Jacks), but his low Fury 5 will require him to be dangerously close to use it. Admonition is a wonderful spell, useful offensively or defensively. Abuse is also incredible, pushing the threat range and damage-dealing of the Titans up significantly...though they pay the price. Torment is a spell I've not used much, but can see it having potential in softening up a Warlock for assassination.
He's got great deals to deal with lots of single-wound enemy infantry, but his low Arm can leave him pretty vulnerable. I try to not put myself in to a position where I need to commit Morghoul to anti-infantry duty, as this will invariably leave him exposed to something I don't want him exposed to!
This guy is the beaststick of beatsticks. Under the effects of Abuse and Enrage, his two fists are hitting at Pow 21, and his healthy Mat 7 means minimal boosting required to hit. Chain Attack: Smash & Grab I almost always use to get a Slam in, as even that hits at Pow 20. His last initial and any bought attacks (with his 5 Fury!) then auto-hit...but I've never had anything live through that whole chain of attacks, so a moot point!
Other than just being an absolute bad-ass, he's got a few tricks too. Hyper-aggressive and Counter-charge can really screw over an unprepared enemy. He's also an absolute brick, with a million damage boxes under Arm 19.
Sadly, he's only got an old layer of primer, so a lot of work to get him ready!
Gladiator & Brute
The Gladiator again, because I think he's such a great value. In this list, he's even more valuable, I think, thanks to Rush having multiple targets, so more of a threat multiplier. He's still a great beatstick, and always my go-to Titan, while I typically save the Bronzeback to deal with the meanest thing the enemy has. This is the guy that usually gets the assassination for me!
The Brute I use in the same role as with the Zaal list. He stays with Morghoul, trying to block LOS and taking a bullet, or engaging uppity enemy units that try to get to Morg. However, Morg doesn't need as much baby-sitting as super-squishy Zaal, so I'm not afraid to run this guy off (Spd 6, 2" from Rush, 2" from Abuse, 3" from charge, 2" Reach = 15" threat range!) to tie up enemy shooting units.
Something I've never done but keep thinking of trying, is using his Animus on the Gladiator, then having the Bronzeback throw the Glad at the enemy caster. Glad can then stand up, forfeit movement, and go to work.
With the Bronzeback and Gladiator being very capable at dealing with enemy Heavies, I felt I needed something to deal with enemy infantry blobs...and what better way than with 360 Reach Thresher with all boosted attacks? His Animus will also be damned handy if the Titans need to Trample, or even for the occasional 2-hand toss!
Not only is this guy good at dealing with enemy infantry...and not just good, but REALLY good...with Enrage and Abuse he's up to a very manly POW 18, able to put some hurt on enemy Heavies or completely waste Lights! This guy is something of a sleeper, I think...folks will expect his use vs. infantry, but when this "Medium" beast walks up with his 3 initial POW 18 attacks and tears in to something, they'll be taken aback I hope...and surprising your enemy is always a good thing.
*Note, if you're ever my opponent, forget that last paragraph!*
Again, sadly, not a drop of paint on this guy...so much work to do!
Marketh is one of the staple guys, found in lots of the "internet" lists...but I struggle to like him. If he were 2 points, he'd be super cool, but for 3 points I often feel let down. Still, Morg struggles to get all the spells cast he wants, and having this guy throw out a free Admonition, Abuse, or Rush is damned handy. I've added some infantry to the list, so he'll potentially be able to support the upkeeps with souls. My personal jury is still out on him....if he's a bust in practice games he's getting kicked to the curb for a pile of PGBH! I'd like to think there's something obvious I'm missing with this guy...but I guess he's just a free spell and upkeeps from souls...is he worth it?
Paingiver Beast Handlers
I wish I could fit another small unit of these guys in. Absolutely incredible with the Beasts...Enrage is so potent (extra Str and free Charge? yes please!)...Fury management and Healing is icing on the cake! They're squish and die easy, which is why I'd like more, but these guys are incredible value! In a pinch they can beat up single-wound infantry, too, thanks to Anatomical Precision.
Again, sadly, old primer, with lots to be done.
What can I say? I love this guy! This fellow lets me move up close (or charge) with my forces, and he can seriously weaken the enemy counter-attack. I can even give up the "first strike", weather the enemies attacks (I mean, jacks with no focus don't really do that much!) and be fully functional for the knock-out blow next turn. Moreover, his fury bank ability is really handy with Morghoul...I'm sloppy, and constantly end up with beasts out of Control, this guy is my security blanket! Never leave home without him!
One might think I have an abundance of anti-infantry in the list, with the Rhinodon, the Nihilators, and Morghoul himself...but I really want to not have to use Morghoul in any kind of role that will expose his squishiness, the Rhinodon is somewhat double-duty, taking on both infantry or lights, the the Nihilators will work wonders for clogging charge lanes.
Pros for the Morghoul list:
-Lots of heavy hitting melee power!
-Simple but effective spell list
-Good Fury management
-A fair amount of speed (though most requires buff spells)
-Lots of effective support (PGBH, Marketh, Agonizer)
-No good answer for ranged armies
-No Magic Weapons
-Simple spell list (no surprises)
-No "sneaky" assassination tricks (just raw power)
I hope both these lists are reasonably well put together. I don't know the WM/H meta well enough to know which of these to choose against a given opponent...it will be pure instinct! I'd really like to be able to get them all painted, but as I pulled them all out of their case I realized I've got a lot more undone than done...
I'll get my nose to the grindstone (though I hate that idiom!) and try to get the Planetary Empires stuff done (though I'm still out of sepia wash!) and get a move on on these guys. If nothing else I can do Zaal, Agonizer, and Nihilators and have the Zaal Force complete. Go-go speed painting!
Any thoughts or input on these forces, or choosing good matchups, is very welcome!