The Devil is in the Details

I’ve often been chided for building worlds for RPGs that have way too much background. However, one of the things I like best about creating the lands and peoples of the worlds I create is knowing that they function well enough, under a little bit of scrutiny, to make sense. When I want my players to believe that their characters are in the middle of a world with Elves, Dragons, Dwarves and Magic Weapons, I have to have a point of reference that makes sense so they don’t have to focus on those.

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To See the Void

My trip with Mordikaar started back when he was released. His rules were sweet in metamophosis, and there was a ton of hype for him to be released. Until MK II beta was announced, from what I remember, weeks later. At that point, with an unreleased model and a spell list guaranteed to change – Manifest Void was awesome: While in Mordikaars control area, enemy warbeasts cannot be forced to use animi, and enemy caster must spend one additional focus or fury point to cast or upkeep spells. Non-Skorne models cannot gain soul tokens for models destryed while within Mordikaars control area. Manifest Void lasts one round. Cost: 2 AOE CTRL – He didn’t see much play. Then, when the field test went out, he had a few different changes, mixing up spells between Zaal and himself (did you know that he had a bad version of revive and Zaal had Hollow?) including giving him Lamentation before ultimately taking it away, which made him a little less of a draw for me.

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Before I get started, I wanted to say a few things about the last four gods I am going to write about. These gods: Drakken, Telaxus, Marija and Lobos are each unique, even to the pantheon, and represent either a concept that is unique, or events that transpired due to my players actions in the campaigns I have run. Each of them is going to get a short overview before I launch into the details and try to describe them.

Lobos, the God of Time, is an anomaly in the pantheon in that he is not, truly part of it the way others are. Lobos simply appeared one day, before the Godswar, and spoke his name and title, Lobos, Lord of the Inevitable. He came from beyond time itself, and spoke of residing among them, not as one of the, but of one of them. His demeanor brooked no argument, and his bearing no retort. Since that time he has fought, bleed and supported the Paltonarchs against first the rebels and then the Accursed. There are none among the paltonarchs who would say they know him well, for he has always kept his distance. Aloof and distant from even his fellows, Lobos is an enigma to all.

Lobos, God of Time

Other Titles:  The Ineveitable One, The Unending, Outsider, Castellan of Nothingness

Alignment: NE

Weapon: Scythe (Domaragon – “The End of Ages”)

Major Domains: Time, Inevitability, Fate

Minor Domains:  Destruction, Aging, Void

Totem Animal/Warform: Frogs (The warform is that of a black, starfilled frog with vast teeth of solidified nothingness, with eyes that see through time in all directions)

Holy Symbol: An hourglass with black sand flowing up instead of down.

Favored Appearances: Lobos, not one to stick with forms and conventions, has a single androgynous form that he uses in every interaction. He is of average height, around 5’8″ and of slender build. He has an extremely angular face, with almond shaped eyes that are completely black. Thin lips, a sharp nose and a high forehead complete the image. He keeps his long, grey-blue hair in a ponytail which often rests over his shoulder and onto his chest. He is neither muscular nor lean, though his pale grey skin often has him perceived as thinner than he is. He is never without his scythe, the great weapon that will destroy time itself at the end of days. Other than that single weapon, however, he is without personal protection or weaponry, wearing instead a peasants clothes of trousers and shirt, with an over-tunic of dark gray, hood pulled over his head to shadow his face.

Personality:  Lobos is a loner, keeping his own company and preferring it that way over any. Only his followers and devoted aren’t sent away on their arrival to the Gates of Time. Few Gods, if any, are able to attend him and be welcomed among his small host. Lobos seems often distracted, his mind of in other dimensions and times, seeing both what was, what will be, and what could have been. However, once his mind is fixated on a topic or event, he becomes singularly focused, able to see with great clarity the outcome and how swiftly he can bring it about.

Teachings: There is little joy in the passing of time, and even that little bit is not celebrated by the adherents of Lobos. It is taught that all things pass into oblivion, given enough time, and that the end of all things is the fate of the world. To fight and resist that fate, that great darkness and the void beyond even the war in the Iron Marches, is folly. All things must pass through time, and all things must one day end. Lobos will be there to greet them. The only ending, the only finale, the only way out, is complete, utter and consuming annihilation.

Abode: Even among the gods, Lobos is solitary and prefers the company of himself to that of others. The Gates of Time lie the farthest back on the Paltonarch controlled side of the marches, near the western Unknown Reaches. There, it is said that he sits and contemplates the end of the world and time itself unless called upon by the other gods for aid.

Clergy: The priests and followers of Lobos are responsible for little among the civilized lands of the world, though often in the more savage areas he is revered as a second death god, next to Dagor. Temples of lobos provide no succor to the weak, the infirm or the injured, and provide no asylum or refuge for the poor and weak. Instead, they are warrior-monks, preparing their bodies and their minds for the end times. They train their minds, bodies and souls for that moment that they are pulled away, called to fight the the Last War with Lobos at the head of an army of devoted and fearless warriors. None of his warriors have ever been seen on the Iron Marchs, and it is said that He and all his followers fight a Hidden War against unknown beings of immense power. Though Lobos has seen the end, the failure of the Last War, the Gods and his devotees, he knows it is the only thing that can be done.

Knightly Order:It could be said that all of Lobos followers are a knightly order, but even among those dedicated to a cause, there are those more dedicated.  The Knights of Times Eye are those fanatics. armored in dark gray and wielding great scythes of unspeakable power, they seek not to hone their bodies and minds in the rigors of a monastery or a church, but hunting those who would defy the end of time. In a similar vein to the priests of Dagor, the Knights of the Eye hate the undead, but they also hunt those who have defied time in other ways.  Immortals, demons, dragons. Beings that simply live for seeming eternities. The Knights of the Eye seek them out and strive to destroy them, both as an act of devotion and as a test to their skills and prowess.

Clerical Attire: Lobos prefers neutral grays and blacks, with the rare white as an accent. Many of his agents sport a hood or color, and a white hood has become a well known symbol of the followers of this faith. Preference is not given for either robes, clothes or any other fashion, though often it is armor that has a need to be dyed, lacquered or other form of stained to denote the faith.

Followers: Few Elves take of the worship of one who hates immortal beings, though some have found their self loathing to be a great fuel for his faith. Warriors and Monks tend to gravitate to following Lobos, though few others do. Mages, sometimes, but only for as long as they can naturally live.



And now, Continued! 

(For an Image Gallery of the Games Click Here)

Normally I take a break from writing about War machines for Thursday, but I am halfway through a story, and definitely don’t want to get over a week out before I try and remember two more games. I was 1-1, and got paired up against a newish player toting along Cygnar. He knew the rules well for someone who’d not been playing long. On his tray was Haley 2 with Stormwall and Gastonne-Galleon and Sturgis with Stormwall and a Stormstrider. I felt the pinch of DNC 1, and decided to toss out Mordikaar simply to make sure that I had the opportunity to pick in my last round. I also wanted to have the raider with snipe out there just to make sure and keep Haley2 honest if he dropped her, with the side benefit of being able to take down Gastonne if he got to close.

He picked Haley 2, like you do.

Major Victoria Haley
Gastonne Crosse
Dirty Meg
Trencher Chain Gun

We played Incursion, and I can see why having all the flags stay is not a fan favorite. Turn one I ran up and tried to position myself for a solid scenario presence, and turn 1 he ran in as well. Stormwall hugged the far flag, and galleon started to wedge himself between the two other flags.

I made a rather large mistake not giving the Agonizer any fury on turn one, and it caused a cascading effect in the next few turns as I had to get dangerously close in order to affect any of the enemy models. This game, with so few models to eliminate my Nihlitors, I was pretty aggressive with my positioning, trying to get deep in his guts under my feat turn. It also helps that I went first, the first time in a while.

As you may notice, I also sided out the Incindiarii for a Krea and Orin. While it would have been nice to have Haley Burn, I figured it wasn’t worth leaving the Krea at home.

The rest of the game played out about Where the two colossals are hanging out. Thinking back on it, I probably should have just dropped fist and blown up both colossals on feat turn, but that is hindsight talking.I wasn’t able to really damage the Galleon with the Cetratii, I wasn’t able to really do work against the stormwall with the Nihlators, but I was, finally, able to neutralize them both. The Shaman managed to pick off Gastonne, like I had hoped, and the Raider took out Meg, making sure that the Galleon would sit and rot. Tiberion, unafraid of the Drag on Galleon prior to his nullification, so he just sauntered over to the engaged and swamped Stormwall and laid into him. It took me two rounds, but I was able to scrap him. This was one of those games with Mordikaar were I just sat on 10-12 focus every round and pumped out more and more dudes. I basked in the glory that was revive and slowly was able to grind out the opponents army. At the end of the day, Haley was in a catch 22 situation, circled by Nihlators with more to be resurected to the north, and penned in by Tiberion to the south, she had to give one of the back arc, and she chose Tiberion. Two hits took her off the map, and Mordikaar took away his first victory in a while.

Game: 304
Result: W
Mordikaar Record: 5-3-1

The Man Who Would Be King

The last match of the day was against the most excellent Mike Ireland, and It is the first game I have ever had the pleasure of playing against him. I knew he had a boogeyman that was Mordikaar, and I knew that meant he had game against his lists. Not having played against Vyros 2 in a long time, and then it was with Cryx, I was a little puzzled how this would work out.  The scenario was outflank (see Pt. 1), and I won the roll to go first. His list was

Vyros, Incissar
Nyss Hunters (x10)
Eiryss 2

These 6′ tables were driving me nuts, and it did it again here. As you can see in the picture, I deployed way to heavily to one side, and that was after I ran everything diagonally across the board towards the wall. You can also see that there are two delicious brews to the left of the table, as neither of us were in contention at this point.

I stuck a Nihlator way in the back by accident, and managed to gum myself up in deployment a number of ways, including having the Krea on the wrong side of the board, along with Tiberion. One thing I learned here is that you want your strong pieces, when going first, to be in the center of your deployment. That will enable them to react to either side of the board that needs them. Having them on one side or the other will prevent them from getting to the zone or area fast enough to make an impact.

The feat worked well enough, though I was unable to capitalize afterward due to the placement of his models, and my Nihlitors kept toughing at all the wrong times, giving him free synergy ticks. The Krea, in order to avoid getting smashed to death by Imperatus, had to run wide out of the game and making my life miserable, while the Incindiarii were peppered to death by the Nyss. Tiberion made it across the board to drop Imperatus, with a little help from some Cetratii, in a single round, and made his home in the zone, mean mugging Vyros, who had been dominating the zone and making my life miserable.

The final play of the game came when I was able to revive and resurrect two Cetratii and send them into Vyros 2, along with one I was able to free up with Tiberion. I needed 8’s, but that’s not terrible. Two whiffed and one connected, and at -8 did an expected 2 damage. Then, on his turn, he cleared the zone opposite of Vyros, killed one of the Cetratii, and zoomed over to the new zone. Now, needing 6’s, the Cetratii connected, and with four dice, decided to spike high, and he took 13 damage from the two freestrikes. Sadly, it wasn’t enough for Vyros to drop, but it was enough to make Mike Sweat for a few minutes.

Game: 305
Result: L
Mordikaar Record: 5-4-1

It was this game that I realized a few things, especially after talking to Mike. I mentioned them in part 1, but I really think I have to be more aggressive commiting to zones. It could be unfamiliarity with the army because I’ve just picked up Skorne after years of neglect, but it is also the lack of knowledge of my own caster, and the armies outside of the meta. But there is also another contributing factor, and thats knowing the people. I know how almost everyone in our area plays, I know what type of bait they take, I know where their armies are going to be, and I, mostly, know what their goal is with their army. Here, I knew nothing. It was both frustating, and a joy, because learning the game rather than learning how others play the game, is very enjoyable.

All things considering, I feel I did very well. I went in with a simple goal, that of going 2-2, and I hit it on the head. I only lost to the eventual tournament winner, and Mike Ireland. Now, I am looking ahead to the ECR, but this time I will be running the events there instead of partaking. Judging and running is a different kind of fun, and I get to sample more brews and meet more people this way.




A Flush of Games

After a number of weeks getting a few games in here and there, the tail end of last week was just chock full of Skorne. While I didn’t do as well as I would like, I can feel myself climbing up that understanding ladder. I’ve got a pretty solid grasp of fist, and Mordikaar, through 10 games, is coming along smoothly.

I’m going to walk through them like I normally do, and I’ll put some of the pictures up here. I played fist twice, during the tournament, and Mordikaar 4 times. Fist performed admirably, but Mordikaar is a very high ceiling caster that I’m just starting to understand.

To that end, I played Mordikaar first as preparation for Philly games con. I’d managed to set up two games in two different stores thursday night, and was ready to break him out.

My Mordikaar list, as I’ve been talking about, was

-Cyclops Shaman
-Cyclops Raider
Nihilators (full)
Cetratii (full)
Incindiarii (min)
Beast Handlers (min)

Orin Midwinter
Tyrant Commander and Standard


A Pirates Life

The first game I had set up was against a friend of mine who wanted to try out the pirate Boat, which was fine with me. I’d brought the Mordikaar list to eliminate swarms. We rolled up the scenario, and got outflank Outflank


This is a scenario I am deeply familiar with, having played a ton of games last year leading up to lock and load with the Coven. I ended up getting first turn, and deployed fairly standard. His army had

Aiyana and Holt
Press Gangers (min)
Sea Dog Crew (max)
Sea Dog Crew (Max)
-Mr. Walls
Sea Dog Deck Gun
Devils Shadow Mutineers
Bosun Grogspar
Dirty Meg
Doc Killingsworth
First Mate Hawk
Lord Rockbottom

Opening Moves

He deployed the Galleon to my center-left, along with the Deck Gun. To the right was Shae, all the support solos, Aiyana and Holt, and the one unit of Sea Dogs.

I Deployed the Cetratii Front and Center, with Incindiarii covering my left, along with Tiberion. To the right went the Nihlators. Behind all of that was Mordikaar and all the support.

He AD’d the press gangers to the left, and walls unit to the right, gunning for both flanks and threatening up to 28″ on turn 1!

Turn one, for me, as a touch of a cautious advance, knowing that If I was to aggressive, he could pop feat turn 1 and get a bit into my lines. I wanted to see if I could get him with the feat turn 2, so I could have a bit of a better position. Thankfully, thats exactly what happened, as he rushed across the board, but didn’t feat. 


I took my second turn and ran full bore into the guts of the board, popping my feat and flooding my right zone. My incindiarii wandered over and tried to pop some pressgangers but failed to do anything but light them on fire, which was just fine. Under Feat and Hollow, I was pretty confident that I would be able to weather the pirate storm.

Thankfully, I was able to do just that. Though I lost models on the feat turn, it was an acceptable number, and mitigated by my ability to revive come the next turn. Both zones were contested, and the Galleon wasn’t yet committed, so I was unable to really get ahead on scenario. Instead, we traded pot shots back and forth, where I was able to remove Zira, and thanks to Nihlators being undead with Hollow, he wasn’t able to return any to life.

Final Moments

Have you ever been so greedy in a game for the assassination that you know isn’t going to work, but you can’t stop yourself for the desire to make it work. I have! at the end of his turn 3, Shae was in the woods, almost in the center of the table. I had the Shaman, the Raider, and the Soulward ready to take him down. Sadly, he’s DEF 19 in the woods, and that’s just not really an achievable target. For shame, though, I went for it, and started with the worst model possible, Mordikaar. I resurrected two Nihilators, snipped myself, and boosted my gun into the woods, needing 12’s. Unsurprisingly, I failed. I had one more fury on me and felt that if I could drop some damage into him, he’d play a little defensive, so I boosted the damage after I missed. Ah well, I’ll get him with the Raider, who needed boosted 12’s using eyeless sight from the Soulward to ignore the forest. He, too, missed. At that point I aborted, not feeling I had enough steam left, and sent the last shot from my Shaman into First Mate Hawke, who I had come to realize was within stab distance of Mordikaar. Sadly, the Evil Eye went wide as well, and all I had left was to hope that my opponent didn’t realize that Hawke was in charge range. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and even after remembering that she doesn’t have pathfinder, she still was in range to kill Mordikaar.

Which she did handily.

Game: 300
Result: L
Mordikaar Record: 4-2-1

I let my bloodlust get ahead of me there, and I should have kept playing the correct game for scenario. Instead, my opponent capitalized on my greed and put two swords into the top of Mordikaars noggin.

Fresh from the loss, I took off up north a bit to another local store, and got in a game there against a good friend who loves himself some Butcher three.

His list was
Butcher 3
Greylord Ternion
Iron Fang (Max)
-Black Dragon Standard and Officer
Kayazy Assassins
Epic Eiryss
Saxon Orrik

This time, I have pictures!
We rolled up the same scenario as before, and he took first turn. See Deployment below:

Opening Moves

B3 V. Mordikaar

Our turn 1 took on the standard run and position game, with me popping my feat to protect from the inevitable turn 2 clash. It saved me a bit, keeping the Kayazy away, but I gave it all up the next turn. I faded back from the left zone in fear of the kayazy killing everything I know and love, and I paid dearly for it.

Me fatally fading from the zone.

From here on out, I think it was just formalities. I was pushing for the zone with the wrong models, leaving the left zone completely open to domination and swinging the game for the win to butcher 3.  With the Kayazy coming into the left zone, and the tough Nihlators holding the right, I think I should have committed whole hog to the Kayazy zone. They can only kill so much before they run out of steam.

Honestly, writing this up, I think I am much more timid than I need to be with Skorne. Going second is something that can really cause your head to turn inside out as you figure out how and where you can apply force without getting completely hammered. Its not an easy task, even with Cetratii. This game was a ton more fun and a lot closer than I make it seem, but I think it simply boiled down to me not having the capacity or concept to contest both of the zones while making a bid for the game in and of itself

Game: 301
Result: L
Mordikaar Record: 4-3-1

With those two games down, and a portent of doom on my shoulder, I headed into the crucible of Philly GamesCon on Saturday. I was extremely excited  to go up there and play outside my meta, as well as seeing a couple friends I’ve not seen in a while. I brought out the Fist and Mordikaar, even though I wasn’t very confident with him, and took to the road. The trip was long and grueling (I don’t particularly enjoy driving), but I was thrilled to get there and start in it.

My first round was against another Skorne player bringing Mordikaar and, honestly, I can’t remember the other list. However, it was a novel Mordikaar list he chose to drop against me, and I chose Fist, thinking that they would have the endurance and capacity to absorb the inital assault.

-Titan Gladiator
Preatorian Keltarii (max)
Pain Giver Beast Handlers (min)
Ferox (Max)
Tyrant Commander and Standard
Void Spirit

We were playing Two Fronts, and I think he went first.

Two Fronts

I’ll just be upfront here, as I have no pictures, but I got crushed. He was on his game, and just brutalized me. This Mordikaar list is fast, agile and can really put a hurt on everything you know and love from the start of the game. Ferox are amazing Revive targets, and Keltarii are giant problems when hollowed. My preference for a battlegroup is a bit different, but I can definitely see why he has what he has.

Sadly, I left his zone completely uncontested for almost the entirety of the match, simply letting him dominate while I putzed around on the other side of the board. He sent in Void Spirits and Rhadiem around the edge, tying up the Incindiarii and Karn, who, though eventually freed, were pretty solidly removed from the game. I was able to pop the feat and rocket Karn into Despoiler, taking him down under fury, the feat, and enrage. I also was close enough after sidestep to smash the gladiator close to oblivion. Sadly, Karn had sustained too much damage from his early assault, and died from the gladiator attack in retaliation.

The Keltarii were the real problem in the match, as they dug in so deep on turn 2, jamming past my friendly zone and stalling out the Cetratii. I wasn’t really able to leverage any of the Arcuarii well or even get good incindiarii shots, as the only good targets were Keltarii at defense 15!  Honestly, after suffering from their hands this game, I am swapping out my Nihilators for Keltarii immidiatly. If they don’t work, then I’ll go back, but I really think they are what I want and need in that list!

Game: 302
Result: L
Xerxis Record: 11-12-1

My next opponent was a minions player who dropped Maelok. Knowing that it was gators, I dropped fist. We were playing on a trench table, and I am extremely happy that I have pictures, because trying to describe this would have been insane.  We were playing Recon:




His list was

-Bull Snapper
-Bull Snapper
Wrong Eye and Snap Jaw
Gatorman Posse (max)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Croak Hunter
Croak Hunter
Gatorman Witchdoctor
Gatorman Witchdoctor
Bellows Crew
Feral Giest
Feral Giest

And, the table:

The Trench Board

Man, This game was a slog! A million boxes on both sides as Fist and Gators just slam in the center for almost the whole time.

Round 2 I was able to use the Arcuarii to drag two of the Gatorman Posse leaders forward and put three total gators out of formation. It was an interesting technique, and one I may use again against warders or champions.

The game came down, after many rounds of grinding, to a scrum, once again, on my side of the board. I need to find a way to commit better and stronger than my current half assed semi-determination. Thankfully, he commited Maelok just a little to forward and I was able to get a Furied, enraged Gladiator on to Maelok. Feat turn or not, with three transfers or not, I should be able to drop him, or at least make his Beasts sad that they danced the dance. Needing 8’s to hit, I boost to hit on the charge attack, and connect. Unfortunately, the dice were not cooperating, and my roll came up almost as low as it could: 1,1,1 and 2 for column. Well, thats alright. I have another fist. Damage: 1,2. Ok. Tusks! boost to hit here, and do… 1 more damage. He took 7 and still sat on 3 fury, so my Arcuarii charging was just not going to get that last blow in to kill him. With one fury and Defenders Ward, Xerxis prepared to take a whole bunch of gators to the face. And boy did he!

Xerxis tank!

Three Charging Gators later – Two revived by Maelok, and I thankfully don’t have to say that I lost the game because I forgot to put up Defenders Ward on Xerxis. I didn’t even need the transfer, thankfully. The Gladiator decided to do his job this time, and pummeled poor Maelok to death!

Game: 303
Result: W
Xerxis Record:12-12-1

I’ve got two more games to go, but I’ll save that for another time, I am sure that this getting long winded as it is. I will, however, leave you with pictures of the games:

Amaaran, Accursed of Grief

Other Titles: The Laughing God, Bringer of Tears, The Dark Comfort

Alignment: NE

Weapon: Throwing Knives (Pain and Suffering)

Major Domains: Grief, Loss, Tragedy

Minor Domains:  Comedy, Fear, Tears

Totem Animal/Warform: Black Cat/Panther ( The warform is made of crumbling earth and falling rocks, claws of onyx and obsidian)

Holy Symbol: A white candle with a black flame, often on a background of red 

Favored Appearances: Amaaran, like most accursed, rarely takes to Kasan, and thus his favored appearances are fairly uncommon. When he walks, however, it is generally in the form of a weary human, often road worn and weeping. His clothing is tattered and dirty, and he shows the signs of a recent lack of food. His hair is shortcut and blonde, looking bedraggled and unkempt, but recently so. His unshod feet are bruised and bleeding most often, looking recently to have gone barefoot.

His Female form is a similar, wasting form of a woman, though she tends to be taller and slightly heavier-set, at least originally, and her hair is slightly longer, but could never be described as long.  Both the forms have unnatural features from grief and lack of food, with their once round and joyous faces now sunken and shallow, with their angular bones starting to express themselves through the tightening skin. Both forms, as well, have the same dark grey eyes seemingly constantly clouded with tears.

Personality: Amaaran is a dark being, obsessed with the tragedy and folly of life, but also with the dark laughter and the eventual reprieve that comes from it, though he is one of the few beings, gods or accursed, left that truly take pleasure in the suffering of mortals. Being the bearer and harbinger of both grief and loss eventually eats at the compassion that once may have been there, but Amaaran shows no evidence of ever having had that compassion. His dark laughter and jokes, as well as the grief and sorrow he spreads are both merciless and unending. He spares no one, there is no reprieve, not from his dark glare.

Teachings: The philosophy of Amaaran is as dark as he is. There is no happieness that is not fleeting, there is no moment safe. Tragedy and loss strike all, and unequally. Some will have his dark gaze all their life, and others will have but a moment. There are no ways to avoid the troubles that Amaraan brings. What you can do, however, is absorb it, and let the grief and loss become part of you, weeping when needed, laughing when needed, and succumbing to the fear when needed. There is no escape, and succumbing to the grief and fear and pain is simply the final step in realizing that.

Abode: Amaaran lives in the Bleak Stronghold, sitting atop a rise of lead and rusted iron on the edges of the Accursed Territory. Its high, broken towers and thick brooding walls display the darkest of dread and most terrifying of sadness.

Cultists: In a strange twist of fate, many of the greatest playwrights and poets of Kasan are secret cultists of Amaaran, for they bring both comedy and tragedy to life in their words and through their actions. What greater way is there to spread both grief and comedy than through performances. Though they form an informal brotherhood and don’t speak often, when they do collaborate, they can write the most rending and powerful of plays. It has been said that one play that was written long ago by a cabal of Amaaran worshiper playwrights was so powerfully tragic that the first time it was performed, the entire city it was in went mad with grief and thousands took their own lives and the lives of others in a single night.

Clerical Attire/Colors: Followers of the faith wear dark grays, blacks and dull, pale whites, though they have no formal preference for robes, collars or other such formalities, they simply gravitate tot he colors of gloom and darkness. Often their entire wardrobe will be of those few tones, and they are drab and uninteresting to look at.

Followers: Poets, mostly, and playwrights. Authors and philosophers will also reach out and embrace the teachings quite readily. Warriors and rogue types have an exceptionally hard time understanding the tenants of the faith, as they encounter death of both their enemies and their friends often, and generally become inured to such grief and pain.

I love 5e, and I don’t think I can state it enough, it has the right blend of balance and character, as well as a system that is reminiscent of the RPG’s I played when I was a kid.

However, as in all things, there are rough patches. 5e has a number of improvements over its 3.5 and 4.0 predecessors, but I have found, in a simple three adventures, that there is one place where it falls hard on its ass. Sadly, this portion of the game is also one that is crucial to a DM and to how the adventure plays out. This simple, integral, vital task is used by every DM and every adventure. I’ll stop playing coy, and just spit it out.

Encounter building sucks, and its not just bad, its really bad.

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The Decision 

Its final! The tournament I’ve been excited for is right around the corner. Philly Games Con is coming up this weekend, and I’ll be making my way north for an awesome day of warmachine. In addition, I’ll be hanging out with some guys I almost never get to see, so I am stoked about going. It looks to be a solid 4 rounds of gaming.

That said, I have finalized my lists. I am, 100%* taking Fist of Halaak and Mordikaar to this tournament. 50 points, 10 points of specialists, and deathclock make this exactly my type of tournament.

On Specialists

I freaking love the rule, honestly, and I have found it to be one of the most underused and unappreciated variants in Warmachine. It only makes perfect sense, to me. Many times, or at least often enough to be concerning, the game comes down to list chicken. My list A is favorable against our list B, but unfavorable against Your list C, and My list D is favorable against C,m but unfavorable against C. We are both in a position where there are two good games on the docket, and two poor ones. Avoiding poor games should be one of the goals of a game and tournament system. I think specialists cover that gap extremely well. With those models in reserve, you can, while not confident, still make a choice and have a game of it. Being able to swap out 20% of your army (10pts) is significant, and can turn a game around simply on its own, pulling you up from a 20%  loss to a 40% and saving the game from being a steamroll.

A Tale of Two Fists

My Primary list is going to be Fist of Halaak. Its got the beef, its got the brawn, and it is a bastard to many lists. It is, however, extremely boring to play. Maybe not extremely, but its bad. I don’t think I’ll be relying on it as a drop against everything, but I can see that it has game, even when I mis-drop it.

To that affect, however, I am in a strange predicament: Both of my lists want Vorkesh, either in the side board or in the main list. This lead me to create a strange and non-standard specialist list.

The main list is your standard Fist of Halaak. Its got beater beasts, durable troops and Xerxis. Simple and easy

Tyrant Xerxis
-Molik Karn
Cataphract Cetratii (6)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)
Tyrant Commander and Standard.

Venetor Cannon Crew
Venetor Cannon Crew
Venetor Catapult Crew
Tyrant Commander + Standard Bearer

Objective: Ammo Dump

This list functions just fine without specialists, so I want to be able to capitalize on them if and when its needed. In this case, I would swap out the Gladiator and the Paingivers or both Incindiarii for the whole of the Specialists if it came up on a scenario with the objective. I’d have to look at my opponent and assess which aspect I didn’t need: Either raw muscle, because I am facing something like Butcher with all the High Def Infantry, or the AOE’s because I am fighting either Meat Mountain or some other form of beef.

A Flayer Cannon (pow 12) firing at a wall of warders (arm 19) with boosted damage will be doing pow 24 hits on average, popping up to 3 warders with 5 damage each. The second cannon is only managing 3 damage a pop, but its still completely worth it. Against anything but Meat Mountain, the catapults pow 19 hits are going to be extremely scary, even on a deviation.

The extra Tyrnat Commander will allow much of my force to get into the fray quicker, or threaten deeper, than most other forces, and while I am not sold on this (tell me what you think) I figure its a better swap out than most, and can even come to my benefit if we end up at around 50% objective scenarios. Sadly, I won’t be able to take advantage of the Tier 3 bonus for the tier when I swap, but I’d otherwise be stuck with them no matter what, and I just don’t see enjoying that.

If I don’t go with that formation, I am going to go with the following:

Tyrant Xerxis
-Molik Karn
Cataphract Cetratii (6)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Tyrant Commander and Standard
Tyrant Commander and Standard
Venetor Cannon Crew

Titan Gladiator
Pain Giver Beast Handlers (4)

Objective: Arcane Wonder

Here the Goal is to pop in the Gladiator and Handlers almost every time. The only time I wouldn’t consider it is if the opponent won’t have anything even remotely heavy on the other side of the board. Most times, It’ll be the Arcuarii, Venetor and Tyrant Commander that are removed, but sometimes, if there is a dire need for face-smashing, it could easily be both units of Incindiarii or one of each. This list is probably my favorite manifestation of the fist of Halaak, enabling it to overcome quite a pile of obstacles.

The Void Lord

My second list is going to be Mordikaar, simply because I have a few games under my belt and understand him a little more. Besides, I love the model I painted up.

So, the list I’ve brewed up is pretty damn normal.

Void Seer Mordikaar
-Cyclops Shaman
-Cyclops Raider
Cataphract Cetratii (6)
-Tyrant Vorkesh
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Nihilators (10)
Extoller Soulwarden
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)

Tyrant Commander and Standard
Swamp Gobbers
Orin Midwinter

This is a fairly straightforward list that is moderately bent to the meta I exist within (which, to be fair, isn’t where I am going to be playing). There is very little shooting where I play, or that which is is lightweight, so I can generally get away without a Krea, and I find the Shaman more utility with a rat 5 range 10+ magical Phantomhunter gun, dispel, the ability to Bump or Snipe Himself and his magical reach weapon. The raider, however, is specifically fit for my area, where there seems to be a load of vital support and stealth. This one piece can turn some of the enemies plans on their head, blowing up Gorman, Orin, or even Eiyriss with an average roll. The fact that he give Mordikaar and the shaman the ability to do serious work with their guns is a strong synergy that enables me to blow out key models when and where I need them. Recently, I added in the Extoller Soulward, who will enable my Cyclops Shaman to really do work if he needs to, ignoring Stealth, Cover, concealment and LOS  in order to get to those pesky solos. These support pieces have come invaluable in the few games I have played, and I look for them to be even more so.

However, when it comes down to it, I need this list to be able to tank shooting, too, and my specialists enable just that. The Raider is easily swapped out for the Krea and the Gobbers if the need arises, and will enable me to cover some 16+ inches of the board with Paralytic Auras between Mordikaar, the Krea and the Shaman, and a 5″ cloud for +2 defense with the Gobbers. Vorkesh comes out and is replaced with The Tyrant commander if there isn’t a need for Spell Ward, allowing the Cetratii to benefit from Ghost Walk and/or Press forward when needed, and the Agonizer comes out for Orin in games where he is simply not going to be needed. Mordikaar is nuts with specialists, and I love it.

The Specialist Key

What I see as the key to specialists is the ability to know ahead of time what you are going to swap out and why, so you don’t get bogged down with the details of their lists. Having these modules that you can plug in and play matter both to you being able to plan for the inevitable swap up and know your plan for what happens when you do.

I encourage you to explore specialists, and give them a chance. If I was to guess, I’d say that they are the way of the Future!

Hisea, Goddess of Royalty

Other Titles: The Noble, Stern Princess, Blessed Daughter

Alignment: LN

Weapon: Longsword (Authority)

Major Domains: Royalty, Authority, Political Power

Minor Domains:  Negotiation,  Swordplay, Conspiracies

Totem Animal/Warform: Caribu (Her Warform is composed of Lightning, Ice, Crashing Waves and Swirling mist)

Holy Symbol: Four Stars in a diamond, one red, one white, one gold and one silver

Favored Appearances: Hisea is a being of splendor and awe, a noble even among the noble gods themselves. When she walks the lands of Kasan, she is the center of attention, followed by throngs and waited on by servants. Though she is conspicuous, she is not obviously herself.

Her Favorite form is female, that of a glorious and beautiful elf, with long, chocolate colored hair and pale, almost alabaster skin. She has the typical sharp and high angled features of a elf,  though her eyes are an uncharacteristically black color. She wears regal clothing of woven gold and silver, decorated with thousands of tiny gems of every color imaginable. These gems are sewn into the dress specifically to evoke d different colors from every angle.

Her male form is cloaked in gold, silver and gems as well, with a curly crown of bright red hair. His manicured and flawless beard is both curly and red as well, with green eyes that pierce straight to men’s souls. He is strong and well built, but conceals it beneath his finery.

Both forms carry her sword Authority with them at all times, and both are masters in its use.

Personality: Hisea is aloof and cold, distanced from her fellow Paltonarchs almost all of the time. She believes firmly in the rights of the Paltonarchs to rule as they must and feels complete disdain for the accursed. She dreads the day that she will be called upon to negotiate with the cursed beings, and does not truly know how she will be able to complete the task. To that end, she has set into motion a great and widespread plot to, at the very last moment, if all goes wrong and she is forced to negotiate, slay the Accursed that come. She understands and respects the many levels of power and manipulation that is required on the prime plane, as well, where she takes and active interest in the affairs of nobility. When Kings and Nobles speak of their divine right to rule, it is to her they are beseeching.

Teachings: Hisea is a very cold and powerful goddess, and her teachings represent that. She teaches that those in power are in power with her consent, and those that seek to change the established venues of power directly defy her. However, once those people are in power, she once again gives her blessing to them, begrudginly. Their power, while earned in a terrible way, is still legitimate. Do not be heartless, however, and negotiate in good faith. When the uprisings are crushed and the people see their place in life, it is a faithful execution of the agreed upon terms that will bring the land to stability, where your authority can rightfully reign supreme.

Abode: Hisea lives in the Court of Brilliance, a grand and magnificent court in both senses, surrounded by trees with glorious silver leaves and spectacular bark of gold.  It is here that many of the gods will gather in their spare time, but it also here that they come to have their grievances heard. Here, Oranna and Hisea both pass their judgement on the doings of the Paltonarchs.  It is here that the Oath of Vengeance was spoken.

Clergy:  On Kasan, the Clerics of Hisea are advisors and seers for the great nobility of the world. They speak with the voice of their Goddess, and woe be to those who do not heed her word. The clerics have little to do with any of the common folk, and rarely step foot ouside of their circles of power, where they can command influence and arrange for events to happen as they ought.

Knightly Orders: Hisea has an order of Knights pledged to her service that are deicated to the execution of the needs of the royalty of the lands they exist in. These Praetorians Swear their allegiance to the King of Queen of the land, and serve them unquestioningly, even to the death. In lands with just and benificient rulers, the Praetorians are turned to for assistance and succor. In lands with vile dictators and terrible overlords, the Praetorians are the stoic and unfeeling fist of the rulers.

Clerical Attire/colors: The Attire of the Clergy is simple, though expensive. They cover themselves in pale blue or white robes, and accent it with solid gold studs along the sleves and down the sides. Those with even more wealth to flaunt embroider gemstones in their holy symbol on the back, front and hood of their orante robes.

Followers:  Many of Hiseas followers are Nobles, Kings and Beurocrats, though there are a few warriors who are dedicated completely to the cause of swordplay above all else.



A Shift in Thought

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the way Skorne plays is that its a varied faction with different takes for almost every caster. What I didn’t enjoy, until recently, was that similarity to Cryx. I felt I had casters that did what the squishy Skorne casters sought to do, and better. After looking long and hard at the few casters that really grabbed me as Cryx-esque, though, I have to say I was wrong. Not only do Zaal, Hexerix, Mordikaar and Rasheth not feel Cryxian, they don’t play Cryxian. There are no debuffs, few lurking spell assassinations, and only just the littlest bit of numbers attrition. Instead, they offer a more magical-based or support based way to perform the Skorne Agenda.

The Skorne agenda, as I see it, is to attrition the enemy out of the game. Now, this has become the National meta with the rise of Fist of Halaak, Meat Mountain and other armies relying on high boxes and armor, but Skorne is one of the originators. From Mk I they were the faction that put pressure on your opponent no matter what they choose. Cryx, in MK II especially, have taken off as the attrition faction. Khador as well is a huge attrition faction, but each of these three take attrition to different angles. Trolls probably belong in here as the fourth corner of the star.

  • Cryx Attrition: Offensive attrition through masses of dangerous dudes that you have to simply wade through before you can win the game.
  • Khador Attrition: Defensive attrition through masses of dangerous dudes that you can’t hit, and therefor kill and have to find a way to get rid of before they crack you.
  • Skorne Attrition: Mixed attrition where every attack is a solid attack that can make you regret it existing, focusing on Beasts instead of troops for the finishing blow most of the time. .

Simply put, Cryx’s method of attrition is “Choke on This” Khador is “I’m going to get you!” and Skorne is “Try and stop me”

Forward Unto War

I am really psyched to go to the Philly Games Con next weekend and try out my lists against some people I never, ever get to play. I have hopes that I can do better than my last outing (2-3). I’ll be bringing Fist, simply because I know and am fairly solid with it, and very likely Makeda 2.

My problem now comes with deciding when to use what.

Fist is a great list, and can easily be thrown down in most situations in order to create a very solid chance at winning the game. Makeda’s list is a Swiss army knife of solutions and tools while the Xerxis list is, if you’ll forgive me, an iron fist.

This may sound like I beat a dead horse here fairly often, and it might be true. I don’t think that I am very good at seeing and choosing matchups. I see my skill and ability to play a list first and foremost as the decider of a game. I have had very bad matchups where I have either pulled out a win, or was close enough that I could taste it. These “80/20” matchups just don’t phase me. I will get all tickled, however, over certain Casters I have a feeling will assuredly be there. When Bradigus was all the rage, I focused a lot on him. Now, Knowing Mike Ireland plays Ossyan/Vyros2 almost all the time, I want to have a solution, and I am not sure that I do.

Here is the big thing: I feel confident in my ability to pilot an army, and to understand when I’ve failed to pilot it correctly, however, I don’t feel that I am gaining that opportunity to play into the best games I can. When both players are evenly matched, each one is looking for that little something that’s going to take them from x-1 to x-0. Tipping that scale from 60/40 in their favor to 60/40 in your favor is that edge that I think I need next.

With that said, I’m ready to try and take on the challenges of figuring out how the two lists I intend to take will fare, and am stoked to go. Hopefully, something will sink into my brain!