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


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

  • 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.
  • 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.


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. 

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.

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