After 7 games with Zaal 2, I had settled on a list that was flexible, resourceful, and applied pressure to the opponents army with a method that I could employ. Once I get to that point with a caster or list, I like to set it aside, especially with a limited time frame left for the faction (come on Denny 3!), and pick up another caster or list and try to get a grip on what their approach to the game is. This time around, I reached for Hit Squad Morghoul 2’s new theme force, released in Forces of Distinction and available in Warroom.
Since a friend picked me up Zaal 2 at Gencon, I’ve been playing him exclusively, with strong results. Part of that is the inevitable surprise that new casters bring to the table, but a substantial portion of his success is due to the fact that he’s a solid ‘Caster. I know better than to believe that he will become one of the staple top 3 caster in the faction, but I do think he will get some solid play. His army list is constructed differently enough to engender a different play experience, but it is still the experience that is to be expected from the Skorne Faction. Skorne players have the same issue that Khadoran players have with their Warcasters, and I really don’t think that the issue is ever going to vanish. Both factions, at their core, leverage the melee potential in their army to finish the game. Zaal 2 does this with troopers, using the inevitable losses that an army sustains to guide and enable that which remainse remaining models to be more effective individually. Most Skorne casters rely heavily on their beasts. Zaal, in both incarnations, does not.
Whenever I see a new caster come out for my faction, I start poking and stabbing at them to see what makes them tick. Each new caster brings their own method of playing the game, and though each my not be terribly different from the others, almost every one of them requires you to think differently in order to bring the best models to bear with them. In some factions, like Skorne, there main difference is not what each caster brings, but how you apply what the faction does. Skorne beats face with almost every single caster, and each of them does it a bit differently. Zaal 2 brings a completely different tack than I am used to with Skorne – he feels like he was ripped out of the Cryx section.
Every once in a while, there is something about Warmachine and Hordes that strikes you strange, when you didn’t really know it was a strange thing to begin with. Recently, I’ve been working on learning matchups, evaluating army lists, and factoring in both overall and local meta into my own list composition. I’ve been using Skorne for just over 8 months now, with a slightly above average success rate using a number of different casters. I won’t say I’m a master of the Ways of Hoskune or anything, but I’ve been playing them on and off for 8 years, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.
Which leads me to the statement above. Something I was talking about with a friend struck me as strange, and something that I’d never considered before: Cryx, And Body and Soul in particular, are a difficult matchup for Skorne.
I have yet to play enough games to really judge the power of Zaal, Ancestral Advocate, but I think I am starting to unlock him just a little bit. One of the most fun parts of both of Privateer Presses games, at least for me, is acclimating a new Warcaster or Warlock. I like putting each one on the table and seeing how they interact with the game what they do both for me mentally, and what they provide for the models on the board. I also enjoy the pains that they put my opponent through. Watching when and how an opponent reacts to how you’re playing the game and what your abilities are can in a general sense give you insight into how future opponents will react. All of those points, when added together, can give a really solid sense of how a ‘Caster is going to mesh with your style, your faction, and your temperament.
With the Coming of Gencon and the release of new models, there is always the accompanying wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not, I didn’t say some. Entrenched in the very fabric of the Warmachine and Hordes community is the Doom Cycle, and endless repetition of bad feelings, gloom and resigned detachment. However, shortly thereafter, there is nearly always acceptance of the new models amidst the stable of the tried and true. This year’s Great Wail was heard over Zaal, Ancestral Advocate, the new Epic Skorne Warlock.
I managed to sneak another game in on Tuesday, though at this point its no longer considered sneaking as I’ve been doing it for months. I brought out Zaal, again, but probably for the last time in a while, as my Skorne days are dwindling and I want to get a few more casters under my belt. This week, I took on a newer gamer from our meta playing a 50 pt. Rhan list.
This week I was able to get in a game with an opponent I don’t get to see often. We used to get games in fairly regularly when I lived further south, but its been a while, and I was glad to see Protectorate on the other side of the Table. He brought Durst and Feora 2, While I brought Zaal and Makeda 2. I didn’t know what to take, to start off with, but as we talked and I learned a little more about what a protectorate player wants and doesn’t want to see on the other side of the board, I got a better idea of where I needed to go.
This past week, I got to play a game against a friend of mine who, awesomely, also plays Skorne. Sadly, I don’t get a lot of practice against it, so its good to throw down against someone who I think has a solid grasp of the game and can beat the snot out of me if I mess up. Now, I’d prefer this match up with my Cryx, again, I don’t get to play against Skorne, but playing against it is playing against it, no matter the faction.Continue reading
I’d finally gotten my army back from Seattle, in pretty fantastic shape, if I do say so, and I’d been itching to throw down with some of my Skorne after getting pretty flustered with how Baranabus was treating me. I’d put the final coat of paint on Zaal just a few days before I left for Lock and Load, so he was on my mind. He’d not made the final cut into the foam for transport, either, so the whole time my army was in transit, he was sitting in front of my computer screen, mocking me. So hard did he mock me that I started thinking about how cool his list, Immortal Host, was and about how I have two units of Immortals, and how just flat out awesome it would be to put them on the board. The desire to do just that grew in me until it was bursting, and I knew I wanted to put him and his host of stone warriors on the board, and soon.