Over the weekend, at Adepticon, Privateer pre-released the hordes equivalent of the journeyman warcasters for Hordes: Una the Falconer, Horgul Ironstrike, and Tyrant Zaadesh. Each of them brings different skills and abilities to their faction, some with more effect than others.
While I think Una and Ironstrike are neat, what I really want to talk about is Zaadesh. Skorne is my Primary Hordes faction, and I see a ton of really cool tactics with this guy.
So, who is he? Tyrant Zaadesh:
on the surface, he doesn’t look much like the other two Lesser Warlocks. He gives no discount on warbeasts, but he also has a battlegroup unlimited in selection. Both Una and Horgul have Their warbeast selection limited: Una to Warbeasts with flight (currently only the Rotterhorn Griffon, Scarsfell Griffon, and Razorwing Griffon) and Horgul to Pyre Trolls and Slag Trolls. Zaadesh’s greatest flexibility comes in his Warbeast selection.
Zaadesh is a fairly middle of the road fighter: MAT 6 and P+S 12 are nothing to get extremely giddy about. Magic Weapon is nice, of course, and reach is always welcome, especially with SPD 6.DEF 13 is good, but not great, and ARM 15 is durable enough, especially with 4 fury.
His card is nice and short: two spells and two rules. The first spell, perdition, is a pretty good one. Now, It’ll get a lot of hate from a lot of people. Its an offensive spell on a 4 fury caster, which means you’ve got an especially poor starting point for hitting your target. However, I will not be fooled. I originally though the same exact thing about Wrong Eyes Voodoo Doll, and I was proven horribly, terribly wrong repeatedly. Wrong eye doesn’t even shirk at going after high defense targets either. Boosting is an immensely powerful ability, turning the hit total of 11 into an average hit total of between 15 and 16. Choosing the right target helps of course, but you can reliably hit almost every infantry model in the game with Zaadesh’s Perdition. POW 10 isn’t anything to write home about either, but any infantry under arm 15 is most probably taking a dirt nap, and arm 16 is a good bet too. You can push the envelope by boosting to damage, but this would be extremely dangerous. Leaving him with no fury and only 5 wounds will likely end with a Zaadesh sized bloodstain. his range of targets for perdition, overall, is fairly good. You do have to know what your getting into when you cast it though. Pushing the Def 14 and/or arm 15 envelope is going to be a tricky proposition, and most times not worth it. The payoff, though, can be devastating. Moving a beast into position early is not to be underestimated.
Especially with his second spell, Tag Team. A new spell, as far as I am aware, and a really good one at that. Granting Gang: Battlegroup is a pretty impressive ability for an upkeep spell. This is doubly true when a number of Skorne warbeast have reach: Molik Karn, Cyclops Savage, Cyclops Brute, Cyclops Shaman, Tiberion, Titan Sentry, Despoiler, and the Rhinodon. Enabling the gang bonus here is pretty simple. The real bonus, here, is the universal MAT bonus, something that Skorne on its own isn’t very capable of. Only three casters have any way to boost MAT: Carnage, Carnivore, and Death March. Having the ability to bring a Warbeast MAT buff is incredibly powerfull, and the capacity for warbeasts to boost on the fly really takes it up to 11.
The first of his two rules is the basic lesser warlock setup, stating that he is not, for rules purposes, a warlock. He does, however, have the capacity to act as one, with the following rules: Battlgroup Commander, Control Area, Damage Transference, Forcing, Fury Manipulation, Healing and Spellcaster. This makes a difference for a few of our models, but overall, is just clarifications.
The second rule, though, much like his second spell, has me a bit giddy. Protective Battlegroup gives every warbeast in his battlegroup an Improved Shield Guard rule. He can only activate it once a turn, no matter how many beasts are nearby, but a free transfer for Ranged or Magic attacks is pretty good.
All of the Hordes warlocks, however, are in a strange place in the game. Unlike in warmachine, hordes really doesn’t need to promote the use of their heavies and lights: the rules of the game require them. Therefore, Lesser warlocks, unlike Journeymen Warcasters, will not be reducing the load on the leader of the force and making them more effective. What they will be doing is taking the place of a unit or slew of solos. This makes evaluating them moderately tough, and their value must be gauged with that in mind. Sometimes, however, you want a few extra warbeasts on the board for their animus or for a specific task, and your warlock doesn’t have the fury capacity to run all the beasts you like. In steps the new Lesser warlocks. With the ability to control warbeasts, especially specialist ones, and allow your Warlock to focus on bringing more big bruisers, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
There are a number of curious interactions, as well, with some of our support models. Because he’s not a warlock, you cannot attach Marketh, and he cannot use either spellslave or Soul tap for Zaadesh. The Mortitheurge Willbreaker’s Beastmaster works just fine, as it is the Willbreaker himself who is forcing the beast. Ancillary attack works too as its targets friendly faction warbeast, which is exactly what Zaadesh brought along. Zaadesh Cannot move fury to, or leach from, an Agnoizer, as the rule explicitly states Warlock. Craft Talisman, either from a Cyclops Shaman or Farrow Bonegrinders, cannot be applied to Zaadesh or any of the lesser warlocks because they are not warlocks, as the rule specifically calls out.
Zaadesh has a number of interesting setups that I want to try out. Some of them are less tenable than others, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rattling around in my head. I have three, specifically, I am looking to grab.
1: Zaadesh, Titan Sentry, Cyclops Brute – This is just the Pain Nugget. With the ability to shrug off three ranged attacks a turn before transfers, he should have no problem getting into the mix. Those same three shield guards will allow him to drop a perdition an a vulnerable target in order to launch the Brute into a target, setting up the titan for a MAT 7 P+S 20 turn, and then getting the Brutes activation on top. That is not gonna make anyone happy.
2: Zaadesh. Reptile Hound x4 – This is a crazy, just for chuckles event. Tag Team will allow up to 8 MAT 9 P+S 10+3d6 (4d6 when charging) attacks against the same target. That can really shred something, given the right opportunity.
3: Zaadesh, Cyclops Raider, Cyclops Shaman. – This is the support package with Teeth. Taking the burden of these models off of the Warlock and onto Zaadesh will enable them to take more of the beasts they love. And, if the enemy does break through the lines, there will be a surprisingly effective MAT 7 P+S 13 Shaman and Raider sitting behind the lines with Zaadesh.
Zaadesh brings some interesting play to the faction. He’s not going to be in every list, and sure isn’t going to be the first pick on the list, but he will be around often enough that it’ll really be useful knowing what he does and his strengths and weaknesses.
Oh, and speaking of knowing what they do: Una and Horgul!