When I mentioned that I had finished up Skorne, I had a list of posts I wanted to write up prior to starting publishing Cryx writeups. I am not going to get to all of them. One day I will do a full faction unit by unit breakdown, and one day I will go through every caster that I’ve played and detail why I either did or did not like them and what I used with them and why. Now is not that time. I am, however, going to give a rundown on my basic feelings about the faction, its strengths, weaknesses, and options.
The Beating, Bloody Heart
Skorne is a diverse faction across its multiple units, ‘Casters, ‘Beasts and solos, but not in the way you would initially expect. Instead, the faction flourishes on a single, telling feature.
This faction, unlike many others I have encountered, does not understand the concept of overkill, or big enough, or even restraint. The faction does what it does, and is unapologetic about it in every way.
This can be incredibly frustrating as a player who demands a more varied playstyle or a diverse stable of casters that have answers to some of the more common and complex problems that you are presented with in Warmachine. Skorne does not have that. Skornes value at attrition is through violence. It wins its scenarios on threats of violence, and it assassinates with glorious, glorious violence. If you are not on board with beating face in some of the most basic and brutal methods, Skorne is not the faction for you.
Once you get past that fundamental concept, however, the intricacies in the faction open up like a terrible, serrated and honorable flower. Do you wish to punish your opponents for avoiding your violence? Do you with to force violence down their throats? Do you want to commit violence to them over the course of a full two hours, so much so that they throw their hands in the air? Do you want bestial violence or massed troop violence? Violence with ranged or magical attacks?
The constant with Skorne, its beating heart and soul, is that it simply wishes to crush underfoot. Kneel. If you cannot kneel, we will make you, if you cannot be made to, we will destroy you. its a simple, drastic and completely enjoyable way to play once you give yourself over to it.
Sinew, Muscle, and Tendon
I may have belabored the point too much here in the opening, but I wanted to be sure that it was understood. Some people want from the faction something that they will never have, in my opinion. Control, shenanigans unrelated to combat of some sort, and other more esoteric concepts are well beyond the ken of the Skorne. They are direct, as is their strategy. Its what makes the faction great to play.
But there are strengths within the faction when compared to other factions. As I mentioned earlier, the faction as a whole does not reach the point where it says enough is enough. Instead, they push many of their factors to 11 and beyond.
Warbeasts – This faction has a giant selection of good to fantastic warbeasts that are considered busted prior to even factoring in the synergies that the army builds. I’ve heard it said before that we should thank our lucky stars that we have Molik Karn in the faction. Because he keeps everyone from realizing that the Bronzeback Titan is busted, too. The starting statistics of our titans are actually pretty miserable. MAT 6, Speed 4. P+S 16ish. 30 Health. Taking on a 12 defense and a 19 armor pulls him up a touch. They are innately slow, durable, and fairly dodgy for giant elephant monsters. Bronzebacks get +1 STR, and Tiberion brings a staggering +2 to bear and reach. The Mammoth is Arm 20 P+S 19. They are considered the gold standard, though, because of the buffs they bring in their animi and more importantly the Paingiver Beast Handlers. Between the two, we can give any beast, in any army +2 SPD and STR, and a free run/charge/trample. Its amazingly effective at turning our beasts into nightmares.
Support – Skorne does support, and its almost always bananas. The Tyrant Commander, Mortitheurge Willbreaker, Extoller Soulward and the above mentioned Paingiver Beast Handlers are each completely amazing pieces in their own right. The Tyrant Commander is a MAT 8 POW 12 reach weapon master. The Soulward had an attack it can boost to hit and damage and can be devastatingly powerful to living models. The Paingivers have reach and anatomical precision. These, let me remind you, are support models with powerful abilities that don’t even involve them getting their own weapons involved in the combat. Without powerful combat rules to support them the Willbreaker and the Agonizer are massively powerful pieces that can fluster enemies and push your army further than you originally would have expected.
While there are a variety of other, smaller strengths, but these are the great two. This faction, instead of being carried by its Warcasters like Cryx, or its troops like Mercenaries, is built to live and die by its amazingly powerful and glorious Warbeasts and the support they bring.
Arthritis and the Pox
While the beasts of the army carry the weight of the faction on their back, others are left to atrophy into weakness, providing pain and sores to the faction as a whole that some cannot overcome.
Warlocks – This is clearest and easiest to see within the factions Warlocks. What has always struck me as different than most factions is that the Warlock, in Skorne, can be a simple afterthought. They are powerful, yes, and they provide a variety of different methods to play the game, but they are not the jumping off point, more often than not. Instead I find myself itching to play a new unit, or an old beast I loved, or solo I’ve just acquired, and I got looking for the caster that will best support that model and give it its time to shine. Each caster approaches the battlefield in their own unique way within the faction, correcting an aspect or two of the flaws in the army and pump them up. The unit will then narrow down the selection of Warlocks, giving you hints as to which one to pick in order to exploit the strength or shore up the weaknesses that they have. Its an interesting thought process to have, though, and I enjoy it.
Units – This is one of the least obvious portions of the factions weaknesses, and that is the units that they run and have available. Many are extremely highly specialized, overly complicated, defenseless or, in certain circumstances, woefully overpriced. Often, then, you are taking a single unit, maybe a unit and a half, and the rest are Minions, Beasts and Solos. (This does not hold true with Zaal 2, but transference is a thing!) Oftentimes, the caster will have a single defensive spell that they can give to a valuable solo or beast, but often it goes out on a unit first to hopefully get them a little bit of time to not die. With rare exceptions, our units are decidedly average or a tad over-average for their costs, and that’s fine because the beasts and the support are there to take point in destroying your enemy.
Of course, I always come back to this adage – Nothing is as OP as a good player, and I truly think that if someone played Skorne consistently enough and long enough, they would rank among the very best of players. there is no shame in angling for the kill at all points in time!
Until next time, at least 18 months, goodbye from the Skorne Chronicles! it was great fun and I hope I was able to assist at least one person, one time!