Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On Breaks, Anticipation, and Pairings

I've been pretty quiet recently, probably mostly because my cell phone camera is almost completely useless so I haven't been taking any pictures. Part of it, though, stems from not playing as much as I had been. Felt burned out at the end of February, and despite being really excited by the new things in Skorne and having a dozen lists I wanted to try out I haven't really had an avenue to do so. I'm also currently not committed to any event until the SOO, and despite feeling pretty good about my chances there this year I haven't been doing as much prep as I'd like to.

Breaks

Or how to burn out without fading away

I played a lot of this game in February and January. Probably more games than I'd normally get in during a 3-4 month period. I then switched over to practice for a guild ball tournament, which I took first in. Overall I probably played around 50 games of the miniature variety from the dropping of the Skorne Errata to the end of February, where in a non-tournament week 4 games would be a lot for me. 

This was especially problematic, as near the end of 2016 I had all but stopped playing - I dropped in for a few tournaments just because I like the community, and kept showing up for game nights, but had kind of lost the desire to play knowing that the faction was going to be upended. Felt like going from 0 to 60 overnight when the errata dropped, painting up tons of swordsmen, getting a hydra ready, figuring out lists, and playing every chance I could. I started to feel like a bit of a local meta-boogeyman, and wound up pushing things a bit too far towards competition for competitions sake than I'm honestly comfortable with.

Repainted to reflect newfound awesomeness

So... I took a step back. My last few games have been a bit more toned down - no clock, keeping the Rasheth to a minimum, trying new things. I know Rasheth is going to be one of my warlocks for the foreseeable future, but I have no idea who the other 2 are going to be. I'm thinking of going back to using ADR, maybe playing around with those four until I land on a three list pairing and a champions pair that I really like.

Anticipation

So, the Southern Ontario Open is coming up. I still haven't picked up a ticket, or registered for anything, or set up my housing - I'm debating sleeping in my car, though, parking is way cheaper than paying for a room. I'm really looking forward to the Iron Gauntlet, and hopefully have a chance to redeem myself after losing round 1 of masters at CaptainCon. Masters here does tend to be way more competitive, but I think if I can move off the Rasheth crutch and focus on ADR I can do really well. It has been and still is my opinion that we can do really well in the ADR environment, thanks to our deep support bench and flexible casters.

The issue is... SOO is in a month and a half. Between then and now I don't have any tournaments planned. I'm running two, but that is it right now. Hopefully some more stuff crops up that catches my eye, and I can swing over to them. After that there is the Battle for the Keystone tournament in Pennsylvania, which is a pretty nice high stakes tournament. I took it down last year, and with it coming post-SOO this year I think my odds of placing are pretty decent.


Pairings

RASHETH! No, wait, fuck! Err...

I have a serious problem with not knowing what I don't want to drop Rasheth into. I feel like Rasheth in Winds of Death is just a super good all-comers list, with few weaknesses. It offers a great game of ranged and magic superiority. I know he'll be in my lists for Iron Gauntlet at SOO, but that leaves 2 open spots. Right now I'm trying to figure out something to bring as an anti-Menoth list, as a solid jack brick from them can be really hard to handle when running guns. There is some great play into killing the choir, though, thanks to catapults, sentinels, and dark rituals.

So, who goes well with him? I've been trying to work Zaadesh into my games more recently, going back to triple soldiers with him and immortals. It... hasn't been going as well as I'd remembered. It might simply be a matter of people being more used to him, or me playing more conservatively etc. I'll keep working on it, though, as I like his melee-focus, hard hitting, anti-shooting style, and bringing 3 beasts with RFP seems like a key thing to have against Menoth in this day and age of the High Reclaimer.

I've been really looking at trying out Xekaar with a Hydra, but haven't had the chance. I used him more than was probably healthy pre-errata, but haven't tried this tech out yet. I think there's a lot to it, and it again is a list with a lot of RFP and anti-shooting. 40 points of side board can make the core of such a list really flexible, as well.  Again the Hydra brings some key power against Menoth, and has some really solid threat ranges. Against anything save Amon he should be able to pull out an alpha, and even there his feat can help neuter the alpha fairly well (agonizer in the side board, probably).

Mordikaar I really want to like... I had a lot of fun with him early Mk3, and he hasn't changed. Despoiler and the Gladiator going up a point, though, really did impact my list building more than I'd expected. Still, he turns on our infantry at least from a survival standpoint incredibly well (and even if they die, who cares), and turns void spirits into infantry mulching machines. I definitely see him as worthwhile into squishier casters, infantry, and with list flexibility he can easily switch it up and play with a bunch of heavies.

Naaresh games always end with me either counter assassinating, or dying to dice spikes on an assassination run. I'm not sure if that is a just me thing, or if that is how he goes. Either way, I'm not sure I'm willing to run him quite yet. Though I am intrigued by the thought of using him with a derp turtle to make full use of double min handlers.


Final musings....

Looking at ADR as the source for my other 2 lists has been incredibly helpful, though I'm not sure I can pull together a full three list pairing I'm comfortable with in time for SOO. I'll probably still use them, though, because ADR is fun and it'll force me out of my comfort zone for awhile. If it leads to me losing early on and making a fool of myself, well, shit happens. At least I'll be able to walk around carrying almost the entire faction just to fill out my 3 lists thanks to ADR.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

State of the Meta: A brief look at Skorne and our place in the world

State of the Meta

There have been several conventions this month (CC, LVO, SmogCon), and some pretty impactful yet small changes in the Una2 nerf. I've played... something like 8 WM/H tournaments since the errata, ranging from small 2 rounders to 4 round tournaments or more (I have a problem, please help), and thought I'd share some of my views on how things are shaping up for us at the moment.

A World Without Infantry

The title to this section is blatantly false. There is a lot of infantry out there, between people taking a unit or two just for list diversity or spamming to try and throw off the meta. I'm not sure what things look like in your area, but I keep seeing blast immunity as a big selling point to the infantry people are taking - either via dig in, Iron Flesh, or whatever that thing Satyxis have is called. Cavalry is the exception to this, but that mostly seems to be coming from Cygnar at this point (I think I played into Menoth cavalry once, though I do still play Ferox from time to time myself), where they seem to be skewing armor via AS.

What does this mean for Skorne? Well, personally, this keeps pushing me to crutch on Rasheth. BoC isn't blast damage, and it alone is great for denying infantry thanks to the 1 damage on entry. On the same vein I find Sentinels great - Very solid into Cavalry, and the scathers can really shut down single wound infantry. Either throw them out and hope it lands where you want it, or position your own models to shoot in the back. I had a game where I had sentinels pop two of my slingers, then hit 2 friendly heavies with BoC to form a wall of death for infantry.

But I don't want to play Rasheth! You cry, hypothetical person. Well, you're in luck! Infantry spam a la MK2 isn't going to come back - there just don't seem to be enough points for it thanks to the battlegroup size increase. In that same vein, Hexeris 2 has an absurd amount of personal infantry clearing that, likewise, ignores blast immunity, in Ashes 2 Ashes. Tack on blackspot and some ranged infantry of his own and you can wipe whole units easily - A flayer cannon can nearly wipe a unit of Storm Lances with BS on them, 2 of them should easily handle them. I also recommend Marketh for extra casting of A2A. 

The hydra is also really great into these infantry swarms, ignoring a lot of the tech people are using to deliver via sprays or just powering through them with volume of attacks, and the RFP really helps against recursion lists like High Reclaimer. I feel that drakes are missing a certain something, but I'm really hoping Chiron brings that to us this spring.

Reivers are really the champions for me right now, though. Rerolling missed CRA's really makes them shine, as you can more confidently do 2 man pods into high def infantry and get work done. Their range + reposition makes it trivial to get multiple rounds of shooting off, and CRA + Burst Fire makes them flexible enough to work against multiple model types, again also excellent against cavalry. Every infantry list includes a few heavies, and some might be nearly all large-based if they're using Cavalry, and reivers can contribute volume of attacks as well as quality attacks, as needed.

I'm going to throw a special shout out for Zaal2 + all the constructs. Shoving 30+ armor 22 infantry models down the field is a pretty fucking solid strategy. The only real thing that can handle it is area denial a la scatherspam or auto-point attacks like Tanith etc. P+S 13's with reach and magic weapons that are really hard to kill on approach give some really great quality attacks that can handle a variety of targets, and Zaal can run enough of them well enough that they really crank up that volume of attacks that handles most infantry you'll encounter today, as well. Even without the feat turn these guys can be arm lulno against shooting with a Krea, and when it takes jacks to shoot your infantry down you're in a pretty good spot. Doubly so when you have vengeance and a bunch of soultaking models on top of it.

Jack Spam!

I've run into quite a bit of this, and also have played in tournaments without any of this. Before it felt like jumping into a game of list chicken, though that has changed now. I'll credit this to the Hydra coming out, as it is very much viable into both (and I love it with pMorghoul, who can crank it up to killing multiple heavies a turn and keeps it alive with his feat). I think between our ranged units and Immortalspam featured above we definitely have a variety of ways to handle both list archtypes with the same lists. I think this has now become something of a strength in Skorne - very viable yet balanced lists. I'll go through and detail some things I've had kick ass into both situations, despite building for anti-heavy anti-armor.

Xerxis1 with Swordsmen. Seriously, P+S 14 with 5d6 damage on the charge. Or just take multiple P+S 11 attacks, P+S 9, and sit at 15/17 afterwards. Bring a krea for 17/19 on the approach, because it is hilarious and mean. The buff to their Mat now makes single attacks viable with them, allowing a unit to actually scythe through enemy infantry like they were supposed to anyway. Xerxis 1 also works well with... any infantry really. I just find them to be a great balanced option, and he's an easy enough caster to run that this makes for a nice off-list. Swordsmen coming in the All-in-One and the two player box makes them a more obvious option for newer players, though, and I really think they're worth picking up at least a single unit.

Morghoul1 with a beast brick is amazing, as he can get the alpha and completely shut down reprisal from jack/beast heavy lists. Personally I enjoy him with a few ranged elements like cannoneers or sentinels - sentinels are my preferred choice as the scather really does help a beast brick against infantry though I bring a pair of them with Rasheth which makes me nervous about Legion's theme. Cannoneers on the other hand can be cranked to 12" charging threats with a P+S 20 mace, and have AOE 4's on their cannons, helping them clear infantry a bit more. Tack in a hydra and krea and you have a great switch-hitter list that wins out in the ranged fight and can either deny an alpha with the feat or take the alpha and sit pretty under the feat bubble. Hydra and cannoneers have a real nice anti-infantry presence with their ranged and melee presence against heavy armor.

Rasheth has the ever-present -4 armor swing against a single target during his feat turn, which is enough that most things can crack armor. I would say more on him but I think I've discussed him enough here and on my last posts since the errata.

Hexeris1 - His feat is now pretty solid anti-infantry, giving you a turn of mulching things down, and he has parasite. Did you guys hear that? He has parasite! This spell has catapulted him from obscurity to "How do I best use him?", for me. I haven't played around with him post-errata, but he definitely gives us some great options into armor.

Naaresh is likewise amazing into heavy spam. His feat can either be a grand alpha, or can be used to posture up the board with a beast brick that can rather easily take the alpha without fear of losing parts. I keep seeing people discussing various Archidon spam lists, but this is the one place I think it'd actually be really good. Cranking them to P+S 20 with free charges lets a single 10pt heavy deal over 30 damage to an armor 20 model and then sit at 14/19. A few of them can easily take the alpha and break a few key enemy pieces, maybe not kill but certainly do enough damage to hamper your opponent for the rest of the game. Alternatively Rhinodons, titan sentries/tibbers, just a titan brick in general, or a Hydra all seem like really great models to take with him. Doubling up on defense/armor with a krea and agonizer is also a great option.


Honorable mentions

I've been playing a lot of Zaadesh2 with 3 soldiers since he came out (I lost a bet regarding him being good, that resulted in me playing a tournament with him for 3 rounds with a luchador mask). He hasn't really changed much, apart from my list now adding an agonizer. He makes for a great mix of board denial and armor cracking, and is a great way to "just say no" to gunlines. Right now it's a tight consideration for me between him and Morghoul1 as my second list, alongside Rasheth. The 3 of them will definitely be my set for Triad tournaments, though I'm not entirely sure on my Morghoul1 list yet (probably has a hydra). A unit of Immortals + UA with Zaadesh really helps with board control (IR on them). His feat makes them pretty scary to approach, and not being able to move them while they sit at armor 19 is pretty fantastic. I'm also really fond of the many-sentries approach to him, and had a ton of fun taking that out for a spin right before the errata.



Thoughts and conclusions:

I think, for the first time, we have casters that can be built to handle multiple things while still projecting their own questions. Rasheth can tear down infantry or armor with the right build, while constantly threatening assassination with every single infantry piece on your side. Zaal2 fields melee infantry en masse that requires a quantity of quality that I'm not sure is possible to handle. I don't know how you tackle killing 30 immortals in a turn when they're armor 22+, but I feel like that's what he asks you to do, and if you don't you get hit by a sack full of rocks over and over again. Magic rocks. There are plenty of other very high-quality casters, as well, that can be put into multiple matchups without losing to list-chicken. The only thing I'd really advise is to diversify, and find flexible lists. We can now field them without losing to the spam-of-the-month, which I think is exactly where a real faction should be.

I hope that whatever caster is currently your favorite is working out for you, but I know I'm having a hard time picking a favorite right now. I look forward to seeing what people explore over the coming months, and hope to see more and more innovation in list building as we use the plethora of options we now have.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Skornifest Destiny: Skorned Earth

Errata, Tournaments, Cons, Conclusions

So, I managed to get a few games in before my first post-errata tournament rather quickly. My first go-to was trying Makeda2 with double swordsmen and anti-ranged delivery equipment (krea, shaman). I played a few games with it, enjoyed the crap out of it, then dropped it. Played a few games with Hexy2, enjoyed gutting my opponents' support and backlines with Ashes, then dropped him.


Then it was time for the first tournament I'd be attending...

Tournament 1:


During the lull between announcement and errata I wound up playing a few games of Guild Ball, picking up alchemists. Overall I wound up going for area denial, lobbing AOE's all over the field and just lighting things on fire or covering them with poison gas. Was a good time. I decided I wanted to do this with Rasheth, and came up with the following list:



Skorne Army - 75 / 75 points


(Rasheth 1) Dominar Rasheth [+28]
 - Aradus Sentinel [16]
 - Aradus Sentinel [16]
 - Aptimus Marketh [0]
Extoller Soulward [3]
Venator Flayer Cannon Crew [5]
Venator Flayer Cannon Crew [5]
Venator Catapult Crew [0]
Venator Catapult Crew [0]
Venator Reivers (max) [15]
-UA [4]
Venator Reivers (max) [15]
-UA [4]
Venator Slingers (max) [13]
Paingiver Beast Handlers (max) [7]


The tournament I went to was 100pts, and I can't remember what I ran exactly, but it was some variation on the above (in theme).


My first game was into Retribution, where I used terrain and walls to keep a unit of... sentinels? from engaging me too hard. Early on I managed to throw a jack into his caster, who moved up because Castigate was keeping her from participating (Heylenna? The bb caster). Landed a BoC on her as well, for a few points. Next turn I got hit hard back, but watching her run for cover I knew I had a good out. Ran two reivers through a forest in the middle, arc'd 2 boosted BoC at her, and took it down.

Game 2: The Mirror.


Was playing into a Morghoul2 list with Karax, Bloodrunners, a Hydra, Krea, Molik, Gladiator and archidon iirc.

I got lucky with scenario placement (okay, the wall from theme really helps you get lucky with terrain in a lot of scenarios) and a few lobbed AOE's. On my feat turn I shot down Molik, his Archidon, and the Hydra (bloodmark, artillery, sentinel shots). It was brutal, but he kept alive for awhile before I won on scenario. Morghoul2 is hard to pin down.


Game 3: I drop. This was part of a community building tournament series, that I'm helping run, and I'm not really in it to win it, as it were. If I stayed in there would be 4 rounds potentially, me dropping cut it to a definite 3 and let me get home in time to go out to dinner with my fiance.


Conclusions:

Damn is this list fun. Gotta get me more of that.... great potential for armor cracking, denial for scenario play, and an absurd volume of attacks that really helps into swarm armies as well if necessary. A+ will be playing for 6 months or so probably.



CaptainCon:

Oooh boy, here we go. CaptainCon's Standard Issue tournament. 16 man flights, first place in each flight goes on to Masters on Sunday. I've only played the above games, and I just got a hydra assembled that I'm itching to use... I bring Rasheth (as above) and:

http://conflictchamber.com/#b91b3VeGeG5Ggl4x5V6v6v

Skorne Army - 75 / 75 points

(Morghoul 1) Master Tormentor Morghoul [+30]
 - Aradus Sentinel [16]
 - Aradus Sentinel [16]
 - Titan Gladiator [15]
 - Desert Hydra [38]
 - Basilisk Krea [7]
Paingiver Beast Handlers (max) [7]
Extoller Soulward [3]
Extoller Soulward [3]


In theme, because fuck yes wall!


Strategy going in: Drop Morghoul1 first game, hope I'm paired up with someone that isn't well practiced into Skorne and doesn't know what I do yet while I have no idea what I'm doing.

Game 1: Legion

My opponent had Lylyth3 and Thagrosh1. I dropped Morghoul1 as above, he dropped Thagrosh.

He went first, ran some tentacles up and moved the rest of his army up. I respond by throwing out a few scathers, putting up Sandstorm and a krea bubble, keeping up an anti-ranged brick.





A spell martyr comes in on me and puts... uhh... TF? onto the Hydra. His infantry charge in and get very little done. Somehow a deathstalker fails to kill an extoller. Winning.

I use his tentacles to place some scather templates, kill a few sword thingies, anti-ranged animi go up and I pop feat, camping my flag.







My opponent shifts about a bit, moves some stuff up to contest, and positions over towards his flag using Typhon and a Carnivean to contest the zone.

I back the aradus out of combat, throw some scathers to clear lanes, abuse + rush + enrage the hydra and off she goes. 12" charge to the other side of the pit, and she eats Typhon and the Carnivean. RFP, no feat for you.




He goes all out to kill the Hydra, including using Thagrosh. I clear a lane for bluebug, except for 1 free strike from a swordsman. Abuse, enrage, rush, Morghoul walks up... and off he goes! Bluebug charges Thagrosh and eats him.





Game2: Legion... again

I can't remember what my opponents second list was, but I wound up dropping Rasheth into Fyanna.


She has a lot of infantry, zuriel, and Angelius, and supporty stuff.

Turn 1 one of her units of swordy guys gets Iron Flesh, and they all run up in waves. Her beasts move up cautiously.

I respond by teaching my opponent about our lord and saviour Breath of Corruption. Swordsmen are unhappy.

I forget to take a picture.


He pops feat, and moves up aggressively into the center. Ohno! +3 Def! D:



I counter feat, and shoot everything to hell. Did you know that bunker still gets hurt by catapults? Like, a lot? Good times.

She scores a point or four somewhere, I can't really remember... at some point we wind up 4-2 in her favor...




She can't kill enough stuff. Catapults lob more shots and drop the object, I keep controlling the left flag, get the fatman on the right flag, and go to 5. Yes, that is just her left in that picture above.


Game 3: Cryx
Yep, no clue what the pairing was here either. I know I played Denny1 in theme, though.

She runs stuff up, I move up and do my usual BoC BoC moves. A lucky deviation hits Denny, and does 8 damage to her. This is weird, but I'll take it.



Next turn sees Denny come up aggressively and feat, icy grip the slingers, and then proceed to shoot the crap out of me. A machine Wraith gets spawned, which kills my extoller. I lose almost all of the slingers, and quite a few reivers. Things look bad.


Except not really. Denny feated, and just missed a few of my venators. Venators are speed 6, she is Focus 7. They run to within a few inches of her. I feat, lob a BoC, boost damage, and she goes down in 2 activations.


Game 4: Cryx

I'm paired against a guy I carpooled with. This feels weirdly like a local tournament, with us at the final table. I guess this was so absurd, though, that even the TO's fucked up the tournament pairings and results. We knew we were both undefeated, and should be playing one another. We weren't... We went up front, he mentioned he should be playing the other undefeated. They assumed he meant a well known player who was already eliminated. I responded with "No, I'm undefeated..." "Oh, so you should be playing X." Turns out they misreported results because they assumed a certain result overall for our flight...

It was all very aggravating.

ANYWAY

Fat man into Witch Coven. Stuff runs forward, more stuff runs forward, he feats. I run into his feat and start arcing BoC, killing a witch and screwing up some Satyxis. Yes, more blast immune stuff dying to BoC, and even Marketh gets in on the fun.



I hold my feat back, and he retaliates into me HARD. Fortunately, my artillery is still up. I feat, hit bathroom with a blood mark, wipe out a few more Satyxis with BoC, and fire up the Flayers. They shoot at heavies until the legs are out, then the catapults finish them off. A sentinel winds up clearing the middle flag, and I cut down his stuff to keep it from controlling anything this turn.





At this point we just slug it out a bit more, and I wind up getting the assassination off. Too many threat vectors from me for him to really stay safe with his army decimated.


I get to move on to Sunday!





Team Tournament!

I didn't sleep (okay, I got 45 minutes stretched out on some chairs). I stayed up to PG the Midnight Specialists qualifiers. My team finds me in the back of the room. I am their captain. I am half mad.

I don't change my lists. Obesity shall see me through.


Game 1: Cryx

More Cryx? This time I get to play into Gaspy2 - their Skorne player advised this matchup for some reason, he has 30 some infantry...

Round one he runs up with all his stuff, staying immune to blasts with the raiders. Again with this blast immunity stuff...

I counter by just throwing acid clouds and scathers all over them.



He pops a cloud wall to keep his banes safe and charges in with the raiders. Marketh blasts the raiders with BoC. Rasheth goes to hang out on his favorite flag, behind the wall, and throws some BoC blasts back at him in the clouds.



At some point more stuff happens. I realize I can walk into his clouds. This is bad for him. I start throwing BoCs into his banes. They die in droves. He feats to get a scenario edge, so I just wipe out the zone. Eventually Marketh runs over to contest while I control the center and dominate my flag. Same turn I forgot to leach, both my beasts frenzied. Oh well.



My team lost.


Game 2: Retribution

Did you know Helios can pull Rasheth 9" across the board?

I do, now!

I lose top of 2. Started with a solid opening, managed to wipe out most of his infantry and get a bloodmark onto Helios. I just needed to pad the fat man a bit better.




I go to sleep for about 15 hours.


Master of scrubbing out


Woo, masters!

Game 1: Circle

I drop, you guessed it, Rasheth into Wurmwood. I figure between castigate, the ranged threat and arcing from my side, and just the general ease at which my infantry shoot down warpwolves that this shouldn't be too bad a matchup for me.

Top of 1 he moves up defensively behind a treeline from his sentry stones. I lob a few scathers, lucky deviations let me put some serious damage into his argus and a warpwolf. Rasheth throws out 2 BoCs into his sentry stones, blowing 1 up and covering his forests with clouds of acid. Environmentalists everywhere shed tears without knowing why.



He comes up hard to his flag, throwing up spiny growth and feating, and shooting down my infantry with Wyrds to fill up on souls.

I run a few guys to contest and for arcing purposes and I counterfeat. This is a bad plan, as my artillery and infantry cannot take advantage of it.

He clears his flag, and starts scoring. I'm having trouble keeping infantry alive near it, and my bugs are too slow to get in there.... eventually I get one in range, and he shifts focus to my flag. At this point he has 2 wyrds, a pureblood and Ghetorix left, we're at 4-0, me losing. Both my bugs have been hit by stranglehold and have shifting stones sitting on him, I have a flayer cannon and a catapult left as well. Flayer shoots down his pureblood. Catapult aims and lobs a shot at a shifting stone, needing a 6. Misses.

Rasheth walks up and lobs a BoC at a shifting stone, boosts damage... no damage. I throw a boosted sunder spirit at it and pop it... The clear bug now lobs a boosted shot at ghetorix, missing. I boost blast into him, doing almost nothing. My other bug angry-punches the shifting stone.

I had hoped I could clear both bugs off. A direct hit onto Gheto would've dropped him most likely, and I'd have had more stuff to work with in breaking down the wyrds (like... Rasheth). Oh well, Ghetorix runs to the flag. He goes to 5. I am out.

Was a really great game into a really nice guy. I never felt like I was entirely out of it, and even despite some big mistakes (my feat...) I still saw where a bit of luck would've pulled my ass back out of the fire. I think the matchup is better than it looks from this, and would gladly drop this list into any circle matchup, I think.



Game 2: Menoth

Might as well get another one in. Don't want to screw my last opponent out of SoS by dropping after 1 game, and I'm still having a ton of fun.

My opponent has just lost to Jason Belsha's immortal spam list (This man had an amazing showing, taking 2nd overall in Masters), and decides to try some Kreoss1 into me. He has Idrians + UA, Eye of Truth, flare heavy jack, Rhoven, Choire, some other support stuff, and 2 lights that lob AOE's.

He runs up Idrians and does Go To Ground. Again, blast immunity.

I move up slingers, walk some bugs up and blast his Idrians with boosted to hit shots, killing 2 and blocking a lot of his front with scathers. Rasheth blasts a few more, as does Marketh, with BoC. He is now staring at a wall of clouds and scathers.

Idrians move up and pop some shots and try to contest. He throws a few AOE's at me that do minimal work. I clear both flags and control for 2 points, and lob 2 catapult shots into his armory for a 3rd point.

He decides to go all in, pops feat, and throws up immunity to non-magic shooting before throwing Eye of Truth into my army as well as his other heavy. They kill some infantry and lock down a flag... mostly. The few surviving Idrians move to contest the other flag.

I counter feat, blood mark Eye of Truth, and an extoller throws magic weapons onto a flayer cannon. Dice off 2, I roll 4 shots. It takes out the eye's movement and Cortex. My opponent concedes. Sounds like he'd been having an off weekend, but he was pretty great about everything and despite being in a bad mood he was incredibly friendly. Would play again A+.




Conclusions:


Don't play a tournament on 45 minutes of sleep. Monster is not a substitute for food and sleep. Never rely on blast immunity or armor to keep you safe.


My Rasheth list, though, takes advantage of some of the best aspects of the errata. Scathers, AD slingers, and combined arms on the reivers really make this list work. Add in the extra arcing from Rasheth and it winds up projecting a lot of threat and locking down large areas of the table.  The paingivers never really did anything, though, so I'm going to drop them for a second extoller and a willbreaker. Later on the breaker will probably become a Dakar, once that model drops.


Someone asked what the playstyle of Skorne is, now, and my response was "Aggressive denial". We don't tell you "No", we don't take your actions. We just make you pay for them. DIYD playstyle is here, and I love it. We might get hit in the face, but to do so you're going to have to go through hell and back. I named this blog because the style I found that worked at the start of MK3 was about shoving things across the board as far as I could, and giving my opponent a nightmare of a turn order puzzle. This does the same thing, except instead of troops it projects scathers and clouds of acid. Sure, I may not be to that area of the board yet, but I can damned well keep my opponent from setting anything into it.


Really glad to see that Skorne was doing well across the US, at CaptainCon and LVO. It's an exciting time to be playing, and I'm really looking forward to my next big event this spring at the SOO.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Skorne Festivus

Errata Analysis!


Preamble


So, you may have noticed I stopped posting around the time PP announced a faction rewrite in progress. I know I posted a lot of trashy feedback, which was pretty shitty of me, but I'm glad those of you who stayed constructive actually got things looked at! Good jerb.

I figured today I'd take a look at what's changed, what I'm excited about, and what I'm looking at playing in the near future. I don't have much time to prep for CaptainCon, but I'm not really anticipating doing well there anyway. I'll be helping run the Midnight Madness events, though, which is always a blast. If you're around, drunk, and uninterested in sleep, come on by. 

For those who've missed things, I'd suggest starting here:
http://privateerpress.com/january-skorne-errata-developers-notes

Casters



Hexy1 -
Gained Great Power (1 free upkeep), lost blood boon
Traded Influence for Sunder Spirit (thank the void)
Traded Spirit Leech for Parasite!
Can now get backstrike bonuses on his feat!

Okay, so Great Power really helps him out, and Influence was one of the worst spells in the game, so good riddance. Sunder Spirit is, in general, a bland as hell nuke. But coupling that with Parasite, you now have a caster who can threaten odd angles, land Parasite early (bring an Archidon or Razor worm), and keep it up for free. This takes him from a meh infantry removal caster to a brilliant all game assassination threat. 

His feat is still not so great, but with the addition of backstrikes it isn't AS dependent on your opponent bringing the right loadout of infantry. He can feat further up now, though, thanks to the armor bonus from Parasite, which is huge.


Makeda1-
I liked Mak1 with Subjugation of Will. Giving her Field Marshall [Shield Guard] is just that much better. Giving her a threat extending with The Lash is likewise amazing, and adding in Jackhammer makes her into a seriously versatile caster.

But, wow, her feat. Friendly living models gain Retaliatory strike, and if a friendly model living warrior is disabled in her control, she can take 1 damage to heal them. Meaning, even if you kill her infantry, she can keep them standing and let them hit you back afterwards. I think the Molik Bullet might be back with her, just running him to a target or sidestepping his way there after a quickened charge, then jackhammering an opponent into the ground.

Makeda2-
+3 wb points.
Can stay death characters.
She was considered our most powerful caster, and she got a little better. Not being able to stay death Rhadeim made having him around for Storm Rager was a little bland.

I think with the changes to Swordsmen, though, she'll be bringing more of them and actually throwing out her other spells. My plan is bringing 2 units + UA, a krea, Shaman, and keeping them at 17/16, using stay death to keep the UA alive until they can be delivered with Power Swell. That also leaves quite a bit of wiggle room in the list for solos, Rhadeim, and some heavier hitters.


Morghoul2-
Fury 6
Gained a pow on Mercy, to P+S 13 weapon master with it.
Grants Parry to Bloodrunners (he still doesn't have it himself, d'oh)
He lost ghost walk. In return, he gained Shadow Play - During control phase and at the time of casting target model becomes incorporeal. I'm not even really sure how to think through this... it just seems so absurdly powerful. I'm guessing he'll want it on himself most of the time, and actually have a huge assassination threat.
He also grabbed Mortality. I doubt he'll use it too frequently, but it is a damned good spell. I'm guessing most turns he'll be creeping around in the shadows, trying to land a mortality, and using incorporeal and stealth to stay safe.


Naaresh-
Field Marshall [Pain Response] - This is incredibly thematic for him, and is something incredibly useful to give the guy. It makes him far less unfocused, and I'm excited to try him out.
Also his feat doesn't work on constructs anymore. So, he doesn't run our construct warbeasts as well now.


Rasheth-
Rasheth can now arc an unlimited number of times. I don't know why, I don't know how he got this, but wow. Void Spirits, Ferox, and bloodrunners out the ass. Just fling stuff down the board and go for the assassination, I guess. They've really upped our assassination game with this errata.


Xerxis1-
Big Lurch! Errr, X1 gained the spell Lurch in place of Rift. Spend n fury (max 3), move one warbeast n inches. Range of 6. Kind of interesting. I've never cast Rift with him, and I can see how this makes him likewise better rounded. Not great, but not awful. Could be clutch on feat turn to reposition a warbeast for charges.


Xerxis2-
*Sad trombone* no Escort. I know, I know, armor 25 was too much. Sadly, we'll have to accept getting Rapport and Field Marshall [+2 SPD]. This does slow X down 2 speed, sadly, but he'll have more fury for animi etc. Instead of Mobility he now has Rapport, a pretty solid upkeep spell that fits incredibly well thematically with his feat (essentially long leash, and you can use Xerxis' MAT when attacking). 
My first thought was using it to jam a hydra down the board at mat 8 P+S 20 with S+P on feat turn. Seems... real good. Why not 2?

Oh, he also lost petrify. I've used this spell, weirdly, and liked it. Marketh wasn't worth bringing for it, though. In it's place he has stranglehold. Which is also meh.

Zaal1-
Inviolable resolve instead of Death Pact. Situationally better, will be meta dependent. I run into a lot of Menoth, making the undead part of Death Pact super useful. :(



Warbeasts!


There are a lot of small changes in here, some massive ones, and some small ones that will have a massive impact on our faction.


Agonizer -
Dropped to 6 points. Very small change, but good.

Aradus Soldier-
Dropped to 16 points. Very small change, potential impact is huge, though (my 3 soldier list now gets an agonizer added).

Archidon-
Woo buddy, lots of stuff here...
Gained a str to go to P+S 15, so with enrage or other buffs he can actually get some work done, but you aren't taking him for that anymore....
Immunity Electricity. Screw you Cygnar. Not huge, but thematic and situationally good.
Dropped to 10 points. Sheesh, this guy got a lot of small changes....
LONG LEASH. Yep. We have a long leash speed 7 flyer. Between Hexy 1 + 2, Morghoul 2, and Mordikaar, we now have a lot of uses for this guy. When it was first teased that he was getting long leash, I debated a lot between him and a razor worm for Hexy 2, I have since firmly landed on the side of both, because of course both. I'll probably bring one as a flanker / early arc node for Hexy 1 as well, just to land that early game parasite. Mordikaar making him immune to free strikes is solid, and having a ghost dinosaur is always worth it.

Drake-
Lurker is now cost 1, range self, gives Bushwack and Pathfinder. This is... pretty good. Yep. Weird.

Krea-
Her aura is 3" of +2def/+2arm. No longer does she grant blast immune, but she is now super solid for both infantry and warbeasts. This was definitely needed, but I'm not sure if, after the other changes, I wouldn't prefer her to go back to def and blast immunity.

Bronzeback-
+1 Fury, so he's back to what he was. Woo.
Lost some threshold, though, which is nice and themey. I assume if you load up a bronzeback and fling it out though the next turn will be mopup anyway.

Cyclops
Savage-
Down to 7 points. Pretty good for a light missile with an okay animus.

Shaman-
Gained and arm. Not too huge, but coupled with the Krea animus this could be really big.

Brute-
He's the same, because he is awesome.

HYDRA
Hydra animus now reduces ranged attacks targeting models in it's command by 3". So you want to shoot him with your 10" gun? You have to be within 7" of him. This is exactly what I wanted out of that animus, a really solid anti-ranged delivery mechanic. Even some of the longest shooting models will need to get close enough to suffer the next turn.

Also he got rat 6, making him an actually viable infantry clearing method.

I want 2...

Despoiler-
One of my most used beasts in MK3 so far, he just got 2" reach on his tail. Went up 1 point in cost, but this added threat and extended application of dark shroud still leaves him at an incredible value. Bronzebacks improving also, in my opinion, further up his stock. The two of them should be able to tag team just about anything in the game.

Molik Karn-
He gained a strength and went down a point. I still don't see him as being useful, but we did regain some threat extenders (Lash, Lurch), so ymmv.

Reptile Hounds-
Lost some threshold, are now 4pts a pop. So they got worse in a meh way, and went up in cost. I still don't think I'm going to buy any.

Rhinodon-
+1 arm (18)
+1 Str (P+S 15 and 14)
Crit Knockdown on the tail, which now has 2" reach.

I'm not going to buy one, but I'd field one now in some cases. This is a case of a lot of changes to one model that I don't think really changed anything. For those with the model I'd say he's useful now, I just don't think I can justify buying it.


Scarabs-
This change was just some wording issues. Ignore this.

Cannoneer-
Rat 5. This is actually really big, meaning she won't have to boost to hit Khador heavies reliably... No longer do I have to budget for her using 3 fury every turn. Great since I run 3 of them in a lot of places.


Gladiator-
Went up a point. Makes sense, solid utility piece with amazing damage output for the price. Will still use, especially with all the other places we had costs drop.


I forgot one? You really noticed?  Fineee...

Aradus Sentinel-
My favorite beast at the end of MK2... He got Swarm back, which is huge (Definitely going to run him with Morghoul again), and he gained Scather on his tail. He's a niche area denial piece now that can really screw with jamming infantry, and still has solid assassination potential. Depending on where the meta goes, I can actually see running multiples of him again.


Infantry

Okay, there are a lot of changes here, suffice it to say I can't really speak to all of it comprehensively... my general thoughts are positive, though I haven't used many infantry throughout my time playing Skorne. At first glance, gang on the Bloodrunners instead of CMA feels really good, and I love that the Keltarii are Speed 7 now - our small based infantry actually seem different in a meaningful way. Oh and Swordsmen got power swell and Mat 7. 

Yeah, we now have psuedo weapon masters on small bases.

Oh, well okay, so we also have actual weapon masters on small bases, too. Yep, everyones favorite Skorne Character Unit gained weapon master instead of Flank! They also went up a Mat, making them less of a unit and more like 3 supersolos. They also went up to def 14. Really these guys got a lot of buffs.

Oh, okay, fine. Master Tormentors are Weapon Masters, too. You happy? Why not bring 2, and use them as arc nodes for Rasheth, while you're at it?

Speaking of extra dice for damage, Slingers got AD. Finally feel like they make sense with flare, being able to get up the field quicker instead of just being in the way of the much further threatening Venator Reivers- Who can now reroll missed CRA's.

Oh, uhh, everything on a medium base gained tough. As someone who played Fist a few times in MK2, mostly to let people practice into it, I don't feel too well placed to comment on the Cataphract changes. Even with set defense and tough and the point drop I'm not sure I'd take Cetratii, with or without Vorkesh. Arcuarii seem really interesting, especially since my meta has quite a few people using medium based infantry. Incindiarii are still good, but meta dependent...


STONE MEN
Resonance is back. Immortal UA can no longer buff speed. Hakar has Veteran Leader [Exalted] - +1 to attack rolls. Pretty great that these models now work well together again. I've never been super into them, but I have 2 units + UA and 2 of the solos + Hakaar. 

Derp Turtle-
Gained speed, range, and now gets bonus to hit as well as damage against medium/large/huge bases. Also cheaper. I feel like he was playable in MK3, though really suboptimal in most cases... I don't own one, but it's finally made it into my list of Wants.


Finally - The Paingiver Task Master

I'm not sure how I feel about her changes... recently I've been eyeing her with Brigands + UA, but her 2 changes are pretty pointless there. She still gives them +2 strength and the no KD bubble, so that's solid. But granting 3" reposition, and having Tough back as a target model/unit ability aren't things I've thought through too heavily. Maybe I'll use Croaks again, maybe not. All I can say is, for the things she was good with she's just as good, and she may have picked up some stock elsewhere.



BULLSHIT THEORYCRAFTED LISTS!


WOO Theory crafting! One of the most pointless activities!
I first started trying to adapt two of my favorite lists in MK3. A Zaadesh2 list and a Makeda1 list. Zaadesh fit smoothly, and wound up feeling like a much better list. Makeda1 stalled me for a long time, though.

Zaadesh2
War Room Army

Skorne - New Army

Theme: No Theme Selected
75 / 75 Army


Armory - Steamroller Objective

Lord Tyrant Zaadesh - WB: +28
-    Aradus Soldier - PC: 16 (Battlegroup Points Used: 16)
-    Aradus Soldier - PC: 16 (Battlegroup Points Used: 12)
-    Aradus Soldier - PC: 16
-    Titan Gladiator - PC: 15

Ancestral Guardian - PC: 5
Hakaar the Destroyer - PC: 7

Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7
Immortals - Leader & 9 Grunts: 15
-    Extoller Advocate - PC: 4
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew - Leader & 1 Grunt: 2


---

GENERATED : 01/17/2017 13:54:07
BUILD ID : 2034.17-01-07

I'm not sure on Hakaar or an agonizer in here... The AG feels worthwhile, just to keep the immortals sped up, making them much faster the entire game. I think Hakaar is solid, but the Agonizer is more in theme with what I want the list to do...



Makeda1
War Room Army

Skorne - Based God

Theme: No Theme Selected
75 / 75 Army


Bunker - Steamroller Objective

Archdomina Makeda - WB: +29
-    Aptimus Marketh - PC: 5
-    Basilisk Krea - PC: 7 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
-    Scarab Pack - PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 10)
-    Despoiler - PC: 19 (Battlegroup Points Used: 12)
-    Titan Gladiator - PC: 15

Paingiver Bloodrunner Master Tormentor - PC: 4
Paingiver Bloodrunner Master Tormentor - PC: 4

Tyrant Commander & Standard Bearer - Tyrant & Bearer: 6
Paingiver Bloodrunners - Leader & 5 Grunts: 9
Praetorian Ferox - Leader & 4 Grunts: 20
Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 3 Grunts: 5

---
GENERATED : 01/17/2017 17:49:46
BUILD ID : 2034.17-01-07

I'm really not sure what I want to do with her now... This list was so easy to build before, now there is so much more I want to toss in. The name refers to me starting with the thought that it would be mostly medium and large bases, but the cost and synergies just didn't seem to work out through the end. Def 17 Ferox threatening 19" is pretty nice still, so I couldn't just ignore that piece of tech... Shield guard scarabs are still great...

I think the biggest "meh" is Marketh? He's mostly there to help with upkeeps and throw out a jackhammer. 2 free upkeeps and a potential 7 jackhammers? Yeah, that seems like a thing I want in my list. But do I want it more than Orin Midwinter....

Edit- I've been told Marketh cannot Jackhammer. My bad :( Orin it is.


Makeda2
War Room Army

Skorne - Swarm

Theme: No Theme Selected
75 / 75 Army


Bunker - Steamroller Objective

Supreme Archdomina Makeda - WB: +27
-    Basilisk Krea - PC: 7 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
-    Cyclops Shaman - PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
-    Aradus Sentinel - PC: 16 (Battlegroup Points Used: 12)

Tyrant Rhadeim - PC: 9
Swamp Gobber Chef - PC: 1

Praetorian Karax - Leader & 9 Grunts: 11
Praetorian Swordsmen - Leader & 9 Grunts: 13
-    Praetorian Swordsman Officer & Standard - Officer & Standard: 4
Praetorian Swordsmen - Leader & 9 Grunts: 13
-    Praetorian Swordsman Officer & Standard - Officer & Standard: 4
Tyrant Commander & Standard Bearer - Tyrant & Bearer: 6
Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 3 Grunts: 5
Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 3 Grunts: 5


---

GENERATED : 01/17/2017 14:06:17
BUILD ID : 2034.17-01-07


I'm tired of playing her as a stay death bot. As such, the plan here is to maximize delivery of the swordsmen. Deflection will go up most turns, as will 2 Krea bubbles. Karax are there to keep the swordsmen safe from blasts, while Makeda holds back a few fury to stay death the UAs or Rhadeim. Double handlers + gobber chef, because sometimes you don't know how much fury Makeda will need... Sentinel will help with covering fire! WOO




Naaresh
War Room Army

Skorne - My armor is nailed to my scrotum with a railroad spike

Theme: No Theme Selected
75 / 75 Army


Master Ascetic Naaresh - WB: +32
-    Desert Hydra - PC: 38 (Battlegroup Points Used: 32)
-    Titan Gladiator - PC: 15
-    Agonizer - PC: 6
-    Archidon - PC: 10
-    Despoiler - PC: 19

Extoller Soulward - PC: 3

Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7
Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew - Leader & 1 Grunt: 2


---

GENERATED : 01/17/2017 14:08:52
BUILD ID : 2034.17-01-07

Okay, I had to drop in a Hydra. Why not make it the Armor 22 P+S 23 hydra? This list just looked fun to me, and I'm really excited to try out Naaresh with Pain Response.



Conclusions:

I have no idea what I'm doing and am hopeless for CaptainCon. Good luck to the rest of you, I'm expecting to perform about as well as a gymnast with their balls nailed to the floor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Shit Sucks, Volume 2

Free charges... you guys remember them, right? No, I'm not talking about explosives left on the side of the road. Those are usually called "IED"s, and are bad.

I remember them so well that the very act of paying for a charge is still foreign to me. So strange, in fact, that the Skorne player they got for their MK3 battlebox game in No Quarter seemingly used one (or he walked and called it a charge?).  In the MK3 Skorne insider, the upside to us losing free charges was focused on (great attempt, but damned if the forums and facebook groups didn't turn to shit as soon as someone read that line).
"...Beast Handlers remain a premier warbeast support unit. Beast Manipulations are gone. Instead, each Handler has three special actions that he can use to influence the beasts in the army. These include Condition (which now adds or removes only 1 fury point), Enrage (which is now a flat +2 STR bonus without dictating the action the beast has to take during its activation)..."
But that's neither here nor there... Here, we're going to talk about JUST how much the loss of free charges changes the game for Skorne.

Shit Sucks, Volume 2: Enrage


Loss of free charges, on the surface just means that to get an extra 3" of movement we have to pre-buy a boosted damage roll. If this was the extent of it, though, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Unfortunately, most of the time an enraged Skorne heavy doesn't want to boost damage. At the low end, any attack bought by one of our heavies under enrage is pow 16 (Aradus Sentinel), making it a smart bet to buy attacks against anything with armor 19 or under. A titan of the weakest variety will be swinging pow 18s, which makes charging worse against armor 21 or lower, add in any other buffs and suddenly we want to walk up to a colossal. Unless you're fielding a bunch of Rhinodons or playing against... I have no idea what, but something with REALLY high arm, charging is going to be a sub-par option save for the extra distance, where before we could get an extra d6 of damage so long as our targets were 3" away. 

"So we lost d6 of damage against targets further than 3 inches away and closer than our walk threat, big deal!" You might say, imaginary person created for literary convenience. But this has some pretty big implications for play style overall. Morghoul 1, for example, used to be fantastic at flinging models across the board, dealing high-damage alpha strikes. His feat was fantastic at denying retribution, as well. He could abuse a beast or two, pop feat, and charge forward fairly safely. Then, even if his beasts were out of his control, they could charge in to safety and beat the crap out of a hardened target, without losing any efficiency in doing so. Now, I find myself using his feat more defensively than ever before. Top it off, I often use abuse to walk into combat now, rather than charging. Speed buffs wind up being far less alpha inducing abilities for my armies, and more a counter-punch spell. I don't know why I keep playing like this, but I'm pretty sure it is usually suboptimal? Still, losing damage efficiency when we play an alpha list is a pretty big deal. Charging all in can be way, way worse, when you might cap out against multiple targets and leave your beasts to die to a counter attack.

But wait, there's more!

So lets say you charge a target where you don't NEED a free charge to kill it. You go in on your opponents heavy, and 4 bought attacks later it lays wrecked. Great, right? Of course it isn't, this isn't a "things aren't so bad" post. That beast is now no longer a valid transfer target. Any beast that charges into combat in MK 3 and winds up full, but having accomplished their goal, would have been a valid transfer target back in MK2. This, probably above all other circumstances, is the scariest part to me. Not just the times when I fail to kill a target, but when my gladiator is sitting on 3 fury with a "mostly" dead jack in front of him. Do I buy the 4th attack, or hope I didn't really need to kill that jack? More often than not, if it still has a cortex I can't risk it getting loaded up and throwing my gladiator at me, or getting in a knockdown to remove LOS blocking, so I now lose a potential transfer target (this is, I think, one of the biggest reasons to take a bronzeback... I still take a ton of frenzy checks when I run a titan brick, but at least I'm not stuck swinging in the breeze with no transfers).

Okay, so we've lost damage output, and now have to question whether the alpha is worth it. We might not kill an enemy, and some of the time doing so we'll cap out our beasts, leaving us vulnerable to assassination. But, again, counterpunch, right? 

WRONG! In this world of ranged jacklines, the counterpunch just... doesn't work. Our biggest tech piece for it is the Agonizer, who doesn't do jack against shooting, and is incredibly vulnerable to sprays now that we can't shield guard them. We do have a few feats that work well here, but 2 of them also want to be used offensively (Rasheth, Naaresh), 1 of which doesn't work against ranged attacks, while the other only helps beasts. Arguably, the best is Xekaar, as his feat is incredibly powerful and only defensive, but apart from light spam lists I haven't had him really survive if he feats far enough up to do anything. I have greatly enjoyed doing a run/jam with heavies under Morghoul 1's feat, but it is, again, wasting the +2 str part of abuse if all you do is jam with it, and loses the assassination portion of his feat against Hordes. So 3 of the 4 waste the offensive part of their feats, and the 4th just dies. So enrage discourages us from getting the alpha, our expensive and shitty counter-punch tech piece dies easily and doesn't do anything against range, and we have 4 casters that waste part of their kits, or in one case just die, to feat and hopefully make us deal a counter punch that isn't a glorified death rattle, all but 1 of which don't work against ranged armies anyway (Xekaar needs to be super far up to stop his army from being shot).


Now, I know what you're thinking, because the person I'm having this conversation with is a figment of my imagination. "You haven't even mentioned the fury reduction!". You're right, I haven't, because I was saving that for this paragraph. Okay, so we have... is it 6 models? The Bronzeback, Sentries, Cannoneer, Rhinodon, Archidon and Molik Karn. Molik Karn is complete trash in Mark 3 anyway, so we'll ignore him. 5 models lost a point of fury, but at least one of them was garbage to begin with. So 4 places where it really hits us. The cannoneer used to be able to beat a khador heavy to death with some buffing. Sentries have 1 token shield-bash attack more than the cannoneer, but he's a reach heavy who now has 1 less fury and doesn't really want to charge anymore :(. The Bronzeback was our only Fury 5 warbeast, being nothing but an awesome beater. And the Archidon is now also total garbage, so screw him anyway. So no free charges discourages us from charging, our heaviest hitter is no longer our heaviest hitter, and our two multi-use titans are now more single-use than ever. Losing 2 attacks from a bronzeback is a huge deal, as it takes him from an unstoppable force to a decently stoppable force, and the cannoneer and Sentry are now more locked into their roles than ever. This would be fine, if we were the sort of faction that could lean on that type of tech. But, again, our defensive feats are also offensive. 

We have speed increases all over our faction. The only counter-punching tech we have for our beasts only works against melee, is expensive, easy to remove, and very short ranged. Maybe if we could still buff armor against shooting (more on this here), we could pull more of a damned-if-you-do for gunlines, forcing them to engage or continue to shoot into arm bricks while we position for the alpha, but we can't. We have area defense buffs versus ranged all over the place, but our heavies don't have defense worth buffing. And without our heavies, we can't handle jacks and beasts anyway. We're forced to take more beasts, by the game and by the meta, but we can't deliver them effectively anymore. This seems to be on purpose, but we also were not given the tools to effectively survive an alpha anyway. Our alpha game was gutted, our delivery game was gutted, and we were left with tool-boxes to still try and do those things. We're half-alpha, half-counterpunch, half-assed.

Edit: I forgot about Mordikaar. He's still super legit, as he can jam with a few infantry models with ultra-high defense and position to actually take the alpha, through buildings. That is all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shit Sucks, Volume 1

Hey everyone, I seem to have developed something of a reputation as excessively positive, and have been called out for it. I've decided that to help combat this, and any perception that I think Skorne is fine as is, I'm going to go through and detail some of the MK3 changes that I really absolutely positively CANNOT stand.

WARNING: CONTAINS SALT

Shit Sucks, Volume 1: The Krea

The krea was a once ubiquitous creature that allowed us to safely deliver our slow moving armies against gunlines. Many was the game wherein my caster sat in the open, protected solely by a krea animus and a few token transfers, safe from all but the most intense of ranged assassinations. My mediocre frontlines, likewise, were much easier to deliver when their stats reached 15/15 under a krea bubble, keeping them at least marginally safe from pow 10 shooting, and able to withstand pow 8 blast damage on average rolls. Gladiators and bronzebacks walked up the table at 14/21, while Morghoul ran rampant, comboing concealment and a krea animus for a 21/15 statline, able to bully the table with his feat knowing that things outside of it couldn't touch his defense, and things within couldn't boost to hit. Hell, the number of times I've enabled my paingivers to clear off my backline thanks to her animus reducing defense is... many times. It happened many times.

Shooting tends to be rather low-power, and without some means to boost it can be rather lackluster against heavies. Add in armor 21 and defense 14, and without some decent focus allocation few things could really threaten titans on the approach. Sure we might take some token damage, but it rarely amounted to anything serious. Unfortunately, as you know the krea animus only boosts defense now. This wouldn't be such a big deal, as defense 14 is just about where you want to be, where rat 7's will only hit you half the time, but the loss of armor buffing coupled with the defense nerfs our heavies took and a krea no longer really offers anything to them. Armor 19 doesn't seem so bad, but when you get hit almost as frequently as a knocked down model nothing really needs to boost to hit you, and access to boosted damage from jack guns is now so common we can readily be shot off the board. 

Add in that the Krea herself took a massive hit to defensive stats, and she isn't even able to keep small based infantry alive. They can't screen her worth a damn, and her now pathetic armor and mediocre defense make her a prime target for shooting. Cataphracts, the obvious choice to screen her, are now defense 11 and die to unboosted pow 13 shooting, meaning 1 mediocre shot from a light jack, or a few shots from infantry, that can easily hit def 13, opens a hole to her with no trouble. Sure, you could put her behind some shield walling cetrati, but now you're stuck moving at a glacial pace to protect a defensive support beast for some reason when you're already armor damnnn.  

I take her with Ferox, but as my tables keep evolving to include more central obstructions, forests, and general protection against shooting, I can't help but feel I'm better served utilizing these pieces to keep them safe and let them act more mobile.

If we had just lost defense on the many things that lost defense, the krea would still be useful. If her animus had just changed so that we had to settle on 14/19 on the approach we'd still be respectable, as enemies would have to decide if they wanted to allocate focus to boost to hit and damage, or risk missing half the time or more. Instead we're left with a support beast that needs excessive support to stay alive, and doesn't really offer much to keep us safe from some popular gunlines out there. Best case scenario your opponent ignores whatever the krea is protecting and just pops your heavies with boosted damage rolls.

This, in my opinion, is the biggest nerf to Skorne in mk 3. Not just the changes to the krea, but how other models changed in relation to her as well. We can no longer buff our best protection against shooting (armor), and we've lost enough defense that her support doesn't matter enough. This shit sucks.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Beast Master Xekaar: Brute Force

I've been experimenting with Xekaar and Cyclops spam since early August. The first iteration was fairly balanced, using a Zaadesh + Gladiator package to rush an army of Savages and Brutes down the field (at one point a Sentry was involved somehow, but I can't rightly recall why). The brutes were really aggravating for my opponents (16/21 against melee on feat turn, with set defense, and 22 boxes), and were only marginally worse in melee than savages who boasted an extra mat and p+s, as well as future sight.  My last 3 games have been with a more refined brute-spam list, and I figured I'd do a breakdown of the strengths/weaknesses and playstyle of this list.

The List:

War Room Army

Skorne - the worst 

Theme: No Theme Selected
75 / 75 Army


Beast Master Xekaar - WB: +31
- Aptimus Marketh - PC: 6
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 8)
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8 (Battlegroup Points Used: 7)
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8
- Titan Gladiator - PC: 14

Tyrant Zaadesh - PC: 4
- Cyclops Shaman - PC: 8
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8
- Cyclops Brute - PC: 8
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor - PC: 5
Hutchuk, Ogrun Bounty Hunter - PC: 6

Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7


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GENERATED : 09/19/2016 23:54:34
BUILD ID : 2024.16-08-27

Strengths-
  • A ton of shield guards, with plenty of boxes on very nicely balanced stat lines.
  • Surprisingly mobile, with 7 brutes capable of activating independently, acting as "super infantry".
  • Magic denial via Orin Midwinter and the Shaman throwing upkeep removal. Orin is pretty squishy, but he will either want to hide in the back or should be near a handful of shield guards. I've gotten him killed a lot, but he's always been worthwhile.
  • Control: Between the shield guards, spell denial, mobility, durability, and power of Xekaar's feat, it should be easy to dictate board state most turns. 
  • High Thresholds - Brutes are 9. Even when fully loaded they only frenzy ~50% of the time.
  • Synergies. Rust/quake bombs, enrage, Mortality, tag team. Xekaar's brutes can be effective mat 7 with P+S 18 against warjacks (only 16 vs other models). Mat 9 P+S 20(18) for the ones under Zaadesh.
  • For some reason there are 5 models with boostable 2" reach magic weapons, all of which have spells or boostable magic guns.
  • Immune to stationary and knockdown animus that can go on 10 of the models in the list.
Weaknesses-
  • Offense/arm cracking. Brutes need to boost to hit, a lot, and don't hit very hard on their own.
  • Fury control is hard, and you'll probably make frenzy checks every turn after turn 1. 
  • Spot removal. Really only present in the Shaman. Using Marketh or Xekaar to sling deadweight can be possible, but dangerous.
  • Worth noting: Against most lists being immune to knockdown via animus is pretty great, but Kreoss Pop & Drop can purify them off.

Strategy:

Scenario-
So you've got a bunch of hard to kill models that are also hard to displace. Goal #1 is jamming scenario as hard as you can with brutes backed up by Xekaar's feat during your second turn. Against gunlines this might mean running all out with your beasts, popping feat, and charging off into the sunset. CAMP A LOT AND LET FRENZIES HAPPEN. Zaadesh's package can be held back for shield guards on your support, or used as a flanking package. Just taking one brute under Xekaar's feat out of a zone is damned near impossible, and I've used Zaadesh to keep opponents from scoring their zones this way. 

If you find yourself facing a brick of heavies, this is the ideal strategy. Brutes are faster than most heavies (khador in particular), and just jamming the shit out of them with waves of brutes can keep them from getting anything done until you win on scenario. 

Attrition-
A frenzying brute at least gets boosted to hit and a free charge. This is almost as useful as a brute that didn't frenzy, assuming you've placed it facing the right direction. You don't have much that works against infantry, but most infantry isn't that big of an issue. Few things both seriously threaten armor 18 and def 15. If you do take a hit on your brute frontline, use intuition. Use it early, use it often. Good odds that any brute that uses it to survive will choose that model as a frenzy target anyway. A brute that frenzies might still get work done, a dead brute leaves a hole in your front.

This is better against more balanced lists, or in scenarios where your opponent can score from far away (the pit). Infantry don't threaten you, especially on feat turn, and you want to keep the fight going until you can deliver what you need to to actually crack armor.

Take it on the Chin-
Brutes have set defense, which in many cases (especially during Xekaar's feat), makes it worth it to take a charging alpha. 18/21 is... y'know, a statline. Making an opponent spend potentially 2 focus or fury to charge and boost to hit, then intuiting that away if it connects is incredibly disheartening. 

Stayin' Alive-
There are a lot of easily removed pieces to this list. Zaadesh himself is a 28pt package. Hutchuck is an expensive piece that is necessary to take out heavies/colossals. Orin is an important piece of killing infantry. Fortunately, Zaadesh and Hutchuck are best used as a second wave, cracking through heavies that had to be used killing your lights. Zaadesh and his 2 shield guards can hang out back with Xekaar and Orin, keeping you fairly safe. Even with all the defensive tech in this list, though, it is important to keep a few transfers on hand. Zaadesh camping 3 with his brutes maxed out is worth considering.

Several of my games have come down to opponents trying for hail-mary assassinations. This list can encourage opponents to try for it when they otherwise wouldn't, and being able to capitalize on that means you have to survive it.

This list sucks:

Seriously, many turns will involve nothing happening. It can be frustrating to play against, and boring to play. If you're playing with a deathclock, I advise keeping track of it and trying to win on clock. Don't drop it into someone unsuspecting at a friendly game, let them know and ask if you can practice it.