Spoilers, book releases and No Quarter previews, for years, have been part of what the forums like to call the “Doom Cycle.” There is a picture, but I won’t bore you with it. Google it yourself. Suffice it to say their are four steps:
- Pronouncements of Doom.
- Pronouncements of Glee. at which time we go back to step 1.
The time we dwell in each portion of the cycle depends on a number of factors, none of which seem either controllable or predictable. Today is the start of the Release portion of the cycle, which is blending, as it does every time, the Doom and Glee. I’m going to go over each release, fairly quickly, and give it a once over.
I’m not very good at this, though: I tend to look at everything with rose colored glasses. I know I am going to pick up, play, and likely paint every model that is out there for the faction, so I will look at how they can be played and handwave if they should be played or not until after I get some table time with the models themselves. There are very few models in which I have been completely disappointed once I got to experiment around with them.
As good a place to start as any, the warlocks are the defining piece of most releases. This cycle saw the release some very, very strange iterations of previous casters, many of them old favorites. Kromac now wields Rathrok, The Twins are now a single (double?) warcaster, and Zaal has died and been interred in a stone body while Doomshaper… found a friend?
Anyway. Zaal, Ancestral Advocate
Zaal has, to put it very lightly, been a challenging release. His fantastic model, along with being the long-anticipated Ancestral Guardian ‘Caster lead to an enormous amount of anticipation. This was all, sadly, deflated when his rules came out. He was immediately panned by the vast majority of the Skorne playerbase.
Sadly, many Skorne players have been looking for a change of pace, and that is not what our Ancestral Advocate brings. Instead, he brings the same face-smashing, back-breaking, bone-crushing face beating that the faction is known for, and turns it on its head. Every caster in skorne has access to the Bronzeback Titan, and can therefore break both armor and troopers, given the circumstance. Instead of lighting a fire under the Bronzeback, his toolkit is centered around the ability to make individual troopers do work. He has very little control, almost no board presense aside from his individual assassination threat, and no new tricks. He is a very strong one trick pony.
Now that I have a list i think fits his playstyle, I’ve been having success with him. He is tanky and durable, if slow, with a very strong assassination run and a true, old school, damned if you do, damned if you don’t feel. Killing his army makes both him and it stronger, but leaving it alive is not a real option either.
I don’t know if he will ever emerge as one of the top casters of the faction, but he has a legitimate game against a number of different matchups that Skorne can, nominally, have trouble with. He plays with lots of infantry, and is therefore less vulnerable to weaponmaster spam, and brings a lot of boostable hit and damage attacks, enabling him to give it right back, making him very strong at the task that he sets himself to. While this makes him unique in the Skorne pool of warlocks, he does not present a new dimension for the faction. Instead, he occupies the same melee-centric slot as every other ‘lock we have. While some find that to be boring, I think that you know what is coming the minute you read the faction.
Overall Grade: B- (while good, he is unable to crack into the A Tier due to needing to bring so much infantry that dies so easy, along with a lackluster spell list.)
The original round of Gargantuans for hordes met with little success, so there was a huge swell of interest in this new batch that was announced. The community, in general, was holding its breath hoping that their new Gargantuan would see more play and be more effective than the first go. Skorne was the first to see our model, the Desert Hydra
And what a model it is! With its five individual heads and a coiling, snake-like body, it is a majestic and awe inspiring model that I look forward to owning, if not actually painting.
Thankfully, and I seem to be the minority here, he seems like he is going to be an effective model, and one that does not need a whole lot of help to do it either. his mid-low mat is of concern, but other than that, I’m not worried. His armor is a touch low, and his HP are surprisingly low, but he has a massive method of counteracting that, as he can both regenerate and heal from eating poor fools. He has POW 18 bite attacks, and with the numerous damage bonuses, he is liable to be upwards of 22 most of the time. Top it off with up to 9 attacks and Crit Grievous wounds, and he can really work a number on most opposing models. I have a feeling that in the upcoming world of Colossal and Gargantuan numbers on the rise, he is going to be a very solid anti-Huge Base piece.
I really feel that this Hydra is going to be very well received in just a few months, and even see fairly standard competitive play. I often seeing Gargantuans getting along just fine in the background until they are needed, at which point they surge forward, break the enemies back, and create the beginning of the end for the opponent. The Desert Hydra has very little to contribute until he gets into combat and eats a whole squad all by himself, or ruins a Colossal or Gargantuan. As I mentioned earlier, most of our support isn’t useful for him, which frees up a number of points in a list that is going to include him over the Mammoth, making the list that much more effective.
At the end of the day, though, he is a face beating monster in a faction of face beating monsters. He is not unique snowflake, but he is a huge, powerful snowfalke that has an unprecedented number of attacks at with nearly unequaled damage potential. Sandstorm is interesting, and catching ranged models and making them move in order to shoot seems powerful. He’ll be right up there fighting for a slot every time.
Score: B (he still is a gargantuan, and needs a ton of room to land, but if he can get to something, its going to be eated, and there is little anyone can do about that. Hits hard, Durably-squishy, and moderately fast can’t be all bad)
The Legends of Halaak are an interesting bunch within the confines of Skorne, though we’ve not seen their models, or even pictures of the models, yet. They are a character Trio, one of the last to be released in the game, that fulfills a powerful role in the ranks of the Skorne armies. Each one, one his own, is a bit lackluster, but not bad. Together they can become a wrecking ball, with up to five weaponmaster attacks at MAT 9, which is exceedingly good. They have, by themselves, the capacity to take down many large targets, with the maneuverability to get into position and take advantage of their damage potential due to a large command and small base.
I’m sure they will be in many lists, simply because the 4pt pricetag is extremely affordable, enabling them to squeeze in easily. Their damage output will also create high demand, though I’m not sure it will always pay back.
Overall, I think they are a good, competitive unit, but nothing we’ve not seen before from the faction. Hard hitting, accurate, moderate speed models are the bread and butter of skorne, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Finally, that brings us to the Immortal UA, which is one of my favorites.
Score: B+ ( a solid, cheap unit that deals a massive amount of damage and can lurk in the backfield for the majority of the game. Seems very, very good. )
one of the coolest parts of the Skorne army, in my opinion, in the Ancestral Guardians and the Immortal Units. Stone warriors enshrined in stone fighting for the cause of the empire forever is a very cool hook. Adding more awesome to that unit is just icing.
The art looks cool, and the rules are even better, giving Immortals a lease on life in a number of lists that can use their Magic, pow 13 swords.
One of the points that makes this model so successful of a design, rules wise, is that his abilities are not set in his activation. He has, essentially, Ghost Walk at all times. If you kill one of the immortals in the unit on a free strike, i’ll get the souls and can then turn incorporeal and ignore the rest of the attacks. If you don’t take the strike, I’ll get to the spot I really wish to occupy to make your game that much more difficult. Once this model is released to the public and allowed to be part of tournament lists, I think that you will be able to find him and his immortal palls taking the slot of other, plentiful, melee units that the army has to offer.
Score: A- (his abilities are awesome, enabling a unit that has otherwise rarely been part of the discussion to have new life breathed into it and make people take a second look at them. They want to FIGHT! )
What’d I tell you, Quick and Dirty. I like everything we’ve been given this time around, I just need to get table time with all of them to figure out where, exactly, they fall in the lineup.
Thanks for reading!