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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
Sea Dog Deck Gun
Devils Shadow Mutineers
First Mate Hawk
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.
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.
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
Iron Fang (Max)
-Black Dragon Standard and Officer
This time, I have pictures!
We rolled up the same scenario as before, and he took first turn. See Deployment below:
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
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.
Preatorian Keltarii (max)
Pain Giver Beast Handlers (min)
Tyrant Commander and Standard
We were playing Two Fronts, and I think he went first.
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!
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
Wrong Eye and Snap Jaw
Gatorman Posse (max)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Gatorman Posse (max)
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!
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!
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:
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.
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
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:
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
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.
Tyrant Commander and Standard
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!
Recently, I’ve been able to sneak a couple games in here and there by getting to the store early on D&D nights and grabbing a player in the League to get a game in. A few weeks ago it was Trolls, the Protectorate, and this week, it was Cryx.