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.

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