Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Looking Back on GenCon

Well, I went to GenCon. I played a total of 13 games at various events there, and wound up with the not-so-stellar record of 6-7 overall, with three of those wins coming from Saturday's Champions event. 3-6 in the IG and Master's heats, which was educational, at the very least. I will say this, though, that with the exception of Hexeris 1 who I only played once and with a subpar list, I never felt that any of our warlocks were bad, nor did I dislike the performance of any of our models. None of my losses came down to dice, but rather simply to being outplayed.

I am a rather new player who, through a tendency towards obsessiveness and proclivity towards quick learning got pretty decent, fast. I still make plenty of mistakes when it comes to threat recognition and target selection, and on scenario play. At GenCon, a small number of mistakes was enough to put me in the lower tier, easily, and playing against and watching high-level players was an unusual experience, like finding out that I've been playing this game in the dark the entire time and discovering there is a light switch on the wall. Maybe next year I'll bring a headlamp, and in a few years I'll figure out where the g'd light switch is, but at least now I'm aware that there is one.

Below I'm going to run through some of the models I ran and my experiences with them. Most of these did not see a ton of games, but I brought most of them because I had a positive experience with them previously and thought they were worth the trip.


eXerxis- I played this guy 3 times. I ran him with two different lists, one being a shield guard brick and the other being 3 cannoneers and Tibbers. Both included Zaadesh for extra threat extension. While I do enjoy the 13" threat range on Sentries and Tibbers, and the 24" on the cannoneers, it quickly loses value as a game goes on, winding up feeling like I have 18 points that are not contributing after round 2. Most people aren't going to commit until you've proven you have a solid scenario edge, and having an extra 2" of threat doesn't really switch that up enough. Went 1-2 with him, losing both games with the cannoneer package (I once dropped it into Menoth, for some reason), and winning a game where my Agonizer helped prevent a Madrak2 assassination. I think he actually has some great play into Trolls, and might actually deny Madrak a feat turn, while being able to swing attrition enough in his favor to leave Madrak struggling on Scenario.

My first game with the cannoneers was against Jason Watt, who afterwards gave me his thoughts on playing Xerxis2 (mostly don't), and guided me towards going for a ranged attrition swing via Xerxis' feat and a fully ranged list. It does seem appealing, especially since it is plausible that Reiver's and cannoneers could take out things that threaten Xerxis himself from 22" away. Will wait until the Dakar drops to investigate further.

pXerxis- I played him once, I screwed up bottom of 1 and got killed top of 2 by eHaley. I tilted hard and left him in my bag. I still think he's strong, just... y'know... don't leave him on 0 camp on top of a hill where your Ferox aren't screening you, even if you're 19" away from everything in your opponents army.

pMakeda- Love this lady. I went 4-1 with her overall, going 1-1 in the Masters and 3-0 in Champions. I only brought her because I knew I'd be playing Champions, and wanted to try out all our options, but after my first game with her I knew she'd be one of the ones I picked for it. I brought Scarabs and Orin with her, creating a nice bubble where very little could affect either of them, and played hard on scenario. Threat extension and delivery, mat fixer, recursion (it isn't that bad if you're playing scenario), and a massive boost to safety for her and your solos/support/beasts. She has a lot that I feel like we need, and I look forward to exploring her more in MK3.

pMorghoul- I played him twice, once with Sentinels and once with Soldiers + Despoiler. Neither game did I feel horribly outmatched, even dropping double sentinels into Irusk2 and winning. Poor target selection and positioning cost me my second game with him into Ragnor, though I felt I definitely had a chance even up to the end. Again I had Zaadesh, and again I felt like he was unnecessary. Especially when all of my beasts had native pathfinder. I think I'll just stick to Marketh with him in the future. He is definitely going to have to fight with eXerxis for my pairing, though. Both of them did about the same thing, and both of them have very similar faults.

Mordikaar- Played one game into eHaley with him. Lost on scenario, and was way down on attrition, but I didn't feel horribly outclassed. Unfortunately I think he handles the same matchups pMakeda does, and I feel more comfortable playing her. Her style just works better for me, though I saw someone talking about running him with Ferox and I might be tempted to try that out in the future. It might have been a matter of the terrain setup at GenCon, but I never saw a table where I thought Ghostly would have been particularly fantastic on my battlegroup. I've played on tables in MK3 where that is definitely NOT the case, including at the Rochester WMW qualifier, but having a great spell that relies on the people setting up the boards is a bit underwhelming. Manifest Void just feels like a poor man's castigate, making Animi annoying to cast and only really bothering casters that don't have arc nodes. Shutting down animi and arc nodes seems like the better spell (duh).

pHexeris- I played him once, into circle, with max reivers +UA and some beasts probably I guess. His feat is so reliant on your enemy having warrior models that are A) Important B) Good at killing each other and C) Clustered. I like Death March, but pMakeda does much the same with Carnage, and feels like a much better caster.


Gladiator- I don't really need to say anything here. Bring one in almost every list.

Cannoneer- I borrowed a third one. I now want to buy three more multi kits. I don't even know if that fits in any list, but I hope it does.

edit: eXerxis can... I want to say reasonably but I'm sure that isn't the word... bring 5 of them + some support. Hexy2 can as well, and still have room for a razor worm, solo and some beast handlers. Hexy could even theoretically run them hot without frenzy problems on his feat turn, just activate 3, feat and use them as arc nodes after they've shot up the board, then activate the other 2. Just don't drop it into Menoth, kids!

Sentry- Solid reach heavy with a great ability to take out infantry and cripple enemy heavies without much trouble. Very much worth considering into matchups like Trolls, Khador, Menoth etc where they are likely to have both tanky infantry and tanky heavies. He's damned hard to remove and hits hard enough to kill a few expensive infantry a turn or to rip the cortex out of a jack.

Bronzeback- I brought one in a few lists, mostly so I didn't have round 2 frenzies if I was running a ton of heavies that would be outpacing my beast handlers. He's useful, and can be cute, but I don't know that I'll bring him again and instead just be more conscientious of my fury and placement. He is useful as a way to  make sure your titans can go hog wild and still leave you with transfer targets, though. 

Soldiers- A fine bronzeback alternative, superior in many ways even. In lists where your beasts can afford to be slow, he threatens just as far and starts with better positioning, has native pathfinder, and can hit harder.

Sentinels- Not as bad as I expected. Sure, they don't threaten far with ranged anymore, but if you have something like pMorghoul's feat or an agonizer to back them up, they'll survive an alpha and can then rip through stuff pretty well. Don't ignore the 2 open fists, either. They were pretty great, even dropping into a wall of Man-O-War and a blast immune army.

Despoiler- Do you have a Sentinel in your list? Maybe a bronzeback? Have you considered what Despoiler can do for you, instead? This guy is a serious champ. A bronzeback can't take out an arcane shielded stormwall in one activation, but Despoiler and a Gladiator can. Working in tandem, he makes all of our beasts hit insane levels, and is an extremely heavy hitter himself. 2 open fists, crit brutal on his tail, dark shroud, SPD 5, and a free upkeep? With Makeda1 he let me cast carnage and keep up both of her spells while camping 3, which when she had 6 shield guards and Orin within 3" made her pretty much impossible to crack, while my army become accurate, moved fast, and was safe from shooting. I'm having trouble not putting him in my lists, now.

Scarab Pack- I ran these guys 4 times. Only in one game did I remember they can use fury, and they were still worth their points in gold with pMakeda. Had I remembered that they could buy attacks, getting 3 of them onto some cavalry would have been much nicer. Instead they just did a few points and then died. Still, so worth it. On the surface they kind of suck, but if you can turn them into say... an arc node or a shield guard, I think they're pretty great. I'm even debating them with Xerxis2, possibly 2 units of them, to replace infantry for him. 


Orin Midwinter- God he is good now. Him and pMakeda make it so easy to just bully a flag or zone from the back. He also killed a handful of trenchers for me one game, letting me get an early scenario lead and opening a path for my Ferox to kill/damage some jacks and jam my opponents army under Makeda's feat. His toolbox is fantastic, and if you have a way to keep him alive he will more than earn his points via frustration.

Void Spirit- Whiffed attacks one game, made me sad. Never got to live the dream with them, only playing them once. Still, I'm going to buy more of them, as I needed at least 3 one game and only own 2. Incorporeal heavy hitters that are super accurate and have a placement for safety are pretty great on scenario, so I'll be taking them in more lists when I have the points.

Will Breaker- I brought this guy out twice. He... never actually contributed? I did finally remember he was SPD 6 though. That was nice.

Marketh- Was gold with pMorghoul, and I'm debating bringing him with eXerxis now. Petrify is a spell I wanted to cast far more frequently than I expected, but most turns I'd rather have had him mobility for a safer hit and run strategy.

Master Tormentor- I have no idea if I used her. I probably should have, at some point. Oops? There was really only 1 game I felt like she would have been useful, though.


Bloodrunners- I ran these guys a lot. They were great into most matchups, as both scenario pieces and little murderers. Realizing they can stand at 11.5" out from most shooting units and still threaten them with a charge, while being safe from a move + shoot, made me even more in love with these little guys. I don't really understand why they got so much better, but they did.

Karax- I ran them once, with pXerxis. I still swear by them there, even moreso than before. If Xerxis is going to be running into Cygnar, I almost think they're necessary just for the possible 11" shield guard move on Haley2's feat turn. Sure, I didn't get to make that move because I died, but I was planning on it. That has to count for something, right?

Ferox- Yep. I love 'em. Whether you just bring a Tycomm for that 17" walking threat, or Makeda + Tycomm for a 19" walking threat, these guys are just an excellent scalpel that is impossible to lock down, and can readily wipe out jacks that are left in the open. Dropped them with pMakeda into Cygnar twice, Striker and Haley1, and they were fantastic for killing arc nodes (I hate Thorn so much) and taking out Junior's. Sure, one time I used them as slam targets to kill the Junior, but it was still the cat that killed him. I'm debating picking up a second unit for Rasheth, as I think that combo is quite possibly the answer to a lot of meta-bending lists right now (Wurmwood, I'm looking at you).

Nihilators- They still have a place. I used bloodrunners a lot the first day, and really wished I had some pow 12's instead a lot of the time. When I did bring them out, they were their usual murdery selves, and got plenty of work done. With pre-measuring and any sort of buff to speed or defense, they're like magic. Even without they're pretty fantastic. Not in every list, and definitely not the only infantry piece anymore, but they get work done, and do it with a smile on their faces.

Beast Handlers- I know, beast handlers, bring them. Right? Why wouldn't you? But no, not just bring them, bring plenty of them. The few times I brought a max unit instead of adding gobbers or filling the 2 points some other way I was always happy about it. Healing an aspect, enraging, removing fury from a beast that needs to stand up... having extra for those times when you need to do all of the above is well worth it. 

End Notes:

Okay, so I didn't play with EVERY model in the faction, but I did run quite a variety. I think the biggest change in my feelings were towards Nihilators, when time after time I really wished I had their sweet pow 12's, and the Beast Handlers. The biggest thing, though, was just experiencing what a truly competitive scene is like. And it was brutal. I learned a lot, but now I'm pretty nervous about going to TempleCon later this month. I won't be playing quite so much, but I think it will be a nice opportunity to further my game and help make me into a better player.

I'll say this again, though, I don't think Skorne is in a bad place. After my first day I never had a game where I didn't think that, through a few list tweaks or tighter play, I wouldn't have had a chance to win. I'm not some super-good player who is going to unlock Skorne and stomp the world, I'm just a noob who is above average when it comes to pattern recognition and statistics. But hey, I'm going to keep on keeping on and figuring out what works for me, and keep enjoying the game. If I lose at top-notch competitions to great players, as long as I can keep having fun while doing it I'll keep doing it. 

In closing, I hope you all keep having fun and figuring out what you enjoy and what works. I have a fun little opening gambit I threw together when trying to think of a list that skews the most possible F@#$ YOU to Wurmwood that I could. Sure, it's a very skewed list, but maybe it will show you that we aren't exactly beholden to the current meta-shapers.

Rasheth, in Blue. Ferox in Green and Purple, Rhadeim in Yellow. Enraged Gladiator throws Rasheth, Ferox and Rhadeim just walk/leap/reposition. Without a TyComm, you now threaten well into your opponents AD, .5" into normal deploy with one.


  1. Awesome read. Totally love your determination. I too am a new player and it is great tonnes of the learnings of another.

  2. Thank you. I appreciate you sharing your experiences!

  3. Great read, and great GenCon results! I have to know what your pMakeda list is. The main forum had me pretty down on her at first, but the more I think about her, the more interesting she seems.

    1. War Room Army

      Skorne - Cougar Town

      Theme: No Theme Selected
      75 / 75 Army 40 / 40 Specialist

      Archdomina Makeda - WB: +29
      - Scarab Pack - PC: 10 (Battlegroup Points Used: 10)
      - Despoiler - PC: 18 (Battlegroup Points Used: 18)
      - Titan Gladiator - PC: 14 (Battlegroup Points Used: 1)
      - Titan Gladiator - PC: 14

      Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor - PC: 5

      Paingiver Beast Handlers - Leader & 5 Grunts: 7
      Tyrant Commander & Standard Bearer - Tyrant & Bearer: 6
      Praetorian Ferox - Leader & 4 Grunts: 21
      Paingiver Bloodrunners - Leader & 5 Grunts: 9

      She was fantastic into Cygnar every time. Despoiler and a gladiator took down an arcane shielded stormwall one game with fury to spare, and the Ferox were ace at taking out arc nodes (Thorn) and juniors.

      Played that list into Menoth once, Cygnar twice (Stryker and Haley1) and Ret (Rahn). Won all 4 games with it. I played a variant with Nihilators into Elara and lost on Scenario, but had I remembered to contest one turn I would have been able to put 2 heavies into my opponents zone. Sadly I lost the turn after I killed everything that threatened my beasts.

      Despoiler really turns on her ability to use her spell list every turn. Keeping Quicken and Subjugation up every turn and casting carnage while camping 3. He is also clutch in the list as a damage buff for the gladiators, and heavy hitter all his own. That's even before we get to him being basically a speed 5 bronzeback with critical brutal.

    2. Nice! Despoiler is incredible. He's finding his way into a *lot* of my lists these days. How crucial have the Bloodrunners, Orin, and 2 extra beast handlers been? The Makeda 1 list I'd been fooling around with was

      Makeda 1: (*29)
      *Aradus Soldier: (18)
      *Despoiler: (18) (was a second Soldier, but you convinced me)
      *Scarabs: (10)

      Zaadesh: (4)
      *Gladiator: (14)

      Full Ferox: (21)
      Legends of Halaak: (8)
      Tyrant Commander: (6)
      Min PGBH: (5)

      No extra jamming from the Bloodrunners, and fewer handlers for the various beasts. On the other hand, I like the hitting power. I might be spreading Makeda's Fury a little too thin, with so many good targets for quicken, but maybe I just want to keep it on one target until that dies, then switch to the next, and trade on up. I'm gonna try it though. I'm very psyched to be feeling good about Mak1 again. What do you think?

    3. I've done a lot of quicken cycling with her without much issue. Won a game when a quickened Despoiler just ran to control a flag that my opponent left their caster alone on. With the free upkeep, you can still camp 2 after quicken cycling, and against ranged-poor lists it is even better.

      I'm a sucker for bloodrunners, as they're a great counter to ranged infantry. It also helps that they can get a walking threat of 12.5" (Apparition 2+ SPD 6 + Quicken 2 + Push it to the limit~ 2), which does a great job of shutting down cagey ranged models. Just the threat of the cycling is enough for people to not even bother.

      I've tried it with the legends, and if you put them in front of your beast brick they can do great (6 shield guards is pretty good protection). Just remember they don't get their defense bonus against shooting... They're also a bit harder to recurse, since they want to be packed together, but if you bother to keep one alive (I suggest maracas) on feat turn via shield guards, it should be easy enough to get the flank bonus where you need it.

      The max handlers have been great, being able to stand up a beast, heal, and enrage in one turn, and doing all of that twice was clutch in... one game. I don't think they're necessary, though, since you have plenty of protection for them and they won't need to get out in the open until late game anyway, leaving them safe in the back lines.