In Zaal We Trust. 

So. Game 2.

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



Glory of a Dominar, Part 2

When I started writing last week, I was pretty sure that I was going to write down everything I had experienced and everything I knew about Dominar Rasheth. What I had not taken into account was the layered abilities of the list and how they create the depth of synergy that makes the whole list hum. As I was typing away I came to the realization that I wasn’t even going to fully describe the list and what it contains before I published, creating a very real chance that I was going to have to do a second post building on the first in order to fully expound on what Rasheth is capable of, how his list is run, and what to expect from running it. Even beyond that, however, there is the personal experiences I have had with him, casting him into the Fun Stratosphere.


With the complete rundown of the abilities present on every model last week, the broad picture was painted into how each piece performs, and sometimes its relationships to the others. However, the broad picture does not always present the picture in enough light to demonstrate to others how the list runs, and what to expect. This is especially true when it comes the Chain Gang list.

There are three, very broad, capabilities of any list, and they have been talked to death in many, many situations on both podcasts and the forums: Assassination, Attrition, and Control. Each of these is the foundation of a lists capabilities. Key to understanding and unlocking the capabilities of a given list, and extremely important when dealing with lists that others have written, is understanding which direction a list is going. Additionally, I am going to make two broader observations about the list definitions.

While Attrition, Assassination and Control are each appropriate titles for their respective rolls, I find that two levels of detail can be dug withing each. First, there is whether the list is oriented offensively or defensively, which helps determine the pacing you desire as your game unfolds. Second is whether the job is being done by elite troops of by disposable masses. This gives us the following Matrix.

  • Assassination
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Legion
      • Mass – Cryx
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Minions
      • Mass – Khador
  • Attrition
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Skorne
      • Mass – Mercs
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Tolls
      • Mass – Convergence
  • Control
    • Offensive
      • Elite – Circle
      • Mass – Retribution
    • Defensive
      • Elite – Cygnar
      • Mass – Protectorate

Obviously, this is my first pass, and it may change, but you’ll get the point. Generalizations abound, with plenty of exceptions. Looking to see where the list fits here, and then seeing if it is an outlier for your factions norms is very important. For this list, I would consider it an offensive, Elite Attrition army. You only have a half dozen models pulling weight, and everything else is supporting them. The models that you will be leaning on the heaviest will be unable to take a dedicated assault, and are vulnerable to defensive control tactics, as well as mass assassination.

Defensive Control has very few targets to work with, and will therefor be able to control each to a stronger degree. This will create strain on the army as each individual piece cannot be counted on to pull its weight, and the majority of the list needs to be doing work every turn in order for it to succeed.

Mass assassination will have a veritable mountain of holes that it can swing a model through to try and go for the assassination. Dominar Rasheth isn’t one that can take a sustained beating, and many times will die outright to even a halfhearted attempt to take him out.

Looking at its weaknesses allow you to plan your alternate lists fairly easily – in this case, I’d take specific care to build a list that can take out most Cygnar and Cryx.

That out of the way, I have found that the lists Offensive Elite Attrition style is extremely potent. The sheer amount of damage that can be doled out in a given round is nothing short of astounding. MAT 9 (v. Living) Bronzebacks with Enrage, Blood Mark, and the Feat can put out an astounding 64 damage onto any given target. At P+S 21, they will be flattening anything that has arm 21 and 8 Hit boxes with almost every attack. If you can catch warders unprepared, ie: not under Grissel 2’s feat, you can blow up almost an entire unit. Even under her feat, its only dice -2, and 10’s happen.  Sentries are sitting only one damage less on their reach weapon, and can easily take down 3. This makes the list extremely efficient at blowing apart Fist, Meat Mountain, Gators, and others that mimic that same style. It also makes Colossals shake in their boots, knowing that while they might get the alpha off onto one, or even two titans, that there will be 3-5 more waiting in the wings to blow it apart. Furthermore, any army that relies on such elite models will simply see them outclassed in many cases.

You would think that, given the low model count and limited attacks per turn that a high defense army may be able to whittle through the big boys, and while its probably right, many people forget that Rasheth has breath of corruption. This allows him to project his might weight into the enemy  when they bunch tightly together, but it also allows him to protect his point models from non-reach 1 wound infantry, giving him an element of control over engagements and target priority.

In addition to the list, each model has its own capabilities, and they are generally not the same type of categories that the army has, though they may overlap some.

Bronzeback – This is the workhorse of the list, in my experience. The higher MAT and P+S allows it to tackle a broader range of enemies. With Carnivore pushing its MAT right over the curve, and his P+S augmented by the paingivers Enrage ability, he can go after targets with defense as high as 20. Armor becomes a non-factor when it comes to a Bronzeback with Enrage, and with the help of Blood Mark he can, in every sense of the word, literally kill anything in the game in a single activation. Beatback allows him to make sure that he can work around obstacle models like Tiberion and Colossals while additionally providing a way to ensure that a horde of infantry models steers clear. While he may not be able to smash 8 infantry, due to inevitable misses, his last beat back can be used to place him in a position to have Caustic Mist dropped on him, which is a fairly useful ability for delousing him.

Gladiators – Thankfully, Gladiators are Heavy Warbeasts and can do much of the heavy lifting that the Bronzebacks do when they inevitably die. their P+S and MAT are both one lower, and they loose the chain attack, but they make up for that by directly increasing the threat range on each model. Most often, however, I’ve taken to using these models as Power-Attackers. Slamming for free, even without Enrage, is an amazing ability to have on a model that can self-buff to speed 6. 9.5″ out, followed by at least 3″ of follow up can be extremely aggravating for your opponents. Provided you have the focus to boost the hit, using it to clear out lanes for the Bronzeback to charge through, or even into becomes a very real threat.

*Special Note – Power attacks* – It is worth it to note here that both of the above models have two open fists and a large base, enabling them to perform a variety of special Power attacks. 2h throws, Slams, and Tramples are all extremely useful tools for getting out of jams, removing high defense and clearing zones. There have been many times that I am greateful for the prevalence of both the open fists and the usefulness of power attacks. Often, your opponent will be completely blindsided.

Sentry – This model is extremely effective at being a vanguard for the army. Armor 21 and 30 boxes is going to require some serious dedication in order to pull him off the board (5 or more attacks doing 28 damage each) . His low defense won’t do him any favors, however, and you will need to make sure that he is in a position so that the enemy needs to charge him to get distance: Set Defense pulling his DEF to 13 can be critical, and makes delivering those 28 damage attacks that much harder.  His animus, Locker, can either be a lifesaver or do nothing at all, depending on the opponents setup. Making good use of this ability to lock down and scare opponents jacks and beasts from the field can be the difference between loosing and winning a given match

Cannoneer – This is the piece I am most in love with in the list, and have considered trying to jostle about some points for a second one: Its not meant to be. The Cannoneer exerts pressure with a longer reach than every other model on your side of the board except for the Dominar Himself. This makes him, ostensibly, a back line piece, lobbing out cannon shells when and where he feels most effective. Honestly, however, I cannot see a worse place for him. In almost every game, I have dropped shots into the caster and either boosted blast damage (average 19) or connected and done significant damage (av. 26) to the leader. This leads to a generally defensive, reactionary mindset that plays directly into your hands. You want the game to be controlled by what your titans are doing, not dictating what they can do.

Support – Both Bonegrinders and Paingivers provide different forms of support, but for simplicity sake, I lumped them all together. The Capacity of support in this specific list is twofold – Provide the beasts and Casters with the right tools at the right time to do the right job, from Enrage to Craft Talisman, but also to provide for swift, brutal arcnodes in a pinch. Being able to threaten every angle on the board is something that can end up messing with many an opponents head when they start thinking of your possible Sunder Spirit or Breath of Corruption placement. Being able to swiftly and easily slip between the two will be extremely valuable.

The Man Himself – Most often, Rasheth is going to be playing second fiddle to the glorious and amazing beasts he has brought along in his list. However, aside from being the caster, he is the most vital piece of the puzzle. Enabling both a MAT and an ARM swing is typical, and sometimes he can edge in a P+S enabler if he is able to catch a few living models in his CTRL makes him turn as many Titans as are able to activate into heavy duty workers. But he can very often seal the deal on his own, either through a double boosted Sunder Spirit for the early initial transfer/damage or through a Breath of Corruption that deals massive damage to an enemy casters enabling a later kill. Many casters don’t like to be on the receiving end of POW 23 and 24 damage rolls and some will outright keel over.

Next time, I’ll go into what I do with him on the board. Expect anything and everything with what this list is capable of!




Proprietary Titans

After I played in Philly games con, I was ready for a change in casters. I was preparing to go to Lock and Load , and it seemed that getting some practice in with the caster I was going to take with me was a good idea. So, Starting at the ECR, I have been toting around Rasheths Chain Gang List.

And man, Let me tell you, I have never had more fun playing Warmachine.

The list:

Bronzeback Titan
Bronzeback Titan
Titan Gladiator
Titan Gladiator
Titan Sentry
Titan Cannoneer
Pain Giver Beast Handlers (max)
Farrow Bone Grinders (min)
Pain Giver Taskmaster

Now, this list isn’t in any way optimized to crush my enemies before me, however, it is only a single model off. If I wasn’t reaching for the Tier 2 or Greater army bonus, I would Immediately swap the Pain Giver Taskmaster for an Agonizer.

However, this list, even in its current form, is completely amazing. Its had a fair modicum of success: I am 3-1 piloting it recently, and every game has been different and taught me new things about how to play this list.  What I find most thrilling about it is that it has solutions for almost everything that you can have problems with. There are a few glaringly bad matchups (Butcher 3 being one obvious one), but overall I feel extremely confident playing this against almost everyone.

The Draw

One of the things, if not the very thing, that drew me to Skorne were the titans. Back in Primal MKI  there were only two, and the Gladiator was the undisputed rubbish of the two. The Cannoneer, with his AOE 3, his P+S 16 and his Diminish animus where absolutely fantastic. The Gladiators Subdue animus was very hard to get to work, and didn’t bring anything to the table that the Cannoneer could not.

Then, Evolution came out, and you could hear my scream in joy to the heavens. The Alpha warbeasts were introduced, and the Bronzeback was simply glorious. While his animus was strange (it forced him to slam and granted follow up), he buffed nearby titans and was a powerhouse himself. His model, too, was great, and stands up to this day. Running a titan herd, just with Gladiators, Bronzebacks and Cannoneers was a sight to behold.

Then, when MKII came around, It introduced a new Titan, gave life the the Gladiator via Rush, and made the Bronzeback an unstoppable killing machine. The Cannoneer here got the short end of the stick, but was still a good beast to have around. Running A titan heard was even easier as they introduced the new Warlock, Dominar Rasheth, and this theme list, Chain Gang. In it, you were incentivised to take titans because their cost was reduced. While I was unable to give up the advantages of having Void Spirit arc nodes or Cyclops Shaman guns for a discount on 2 or three Titans, I eventually heard to a list with 6 titans in it that sounded glorious. Trevor Christenson helped me out, and I had a list.

All aboard the Pain Train

I have been consistently amazed by what I can do turn by turn with this list – Its simply astonishing what can be accomplished with the tools that even simply the titans bring.

  • Bronzebacks give you an extra level of fury management even beyond the Paingivers. With his Leadership [Titans] his command of 6, Friendly Titans will not frenzy, and it is an extremely potent ability. Being able to commit to an action while also leaving fury on it boasts very potent planning potential
  • The Bronzebacks Animus, Train Wreck, is one of the best ways to clear infantry in the faction. Being able to use it on itself makes it capable in and of its own, but being able to have it affect gladiators, Sentries and Cannoneers means that infantry have to be extremely wary of how they are placed or they will end up paste.
  • Bronzebacks Have counter-charge, which can be very useful in getting them up the field. Don’t be afraid to take a hit or two from charging models to get into a good spot for either a trample or a train wreck. Using the ability as a threat against heavy targets that want to come into your other titans, especially ones that may have been wounded already. Taking out a system or an aspect can be critical, and with P+S 17 and three dice, its not outside possiblity.
  • Chain Attack: Grab and Smash enables some fantastic “re-arrangements” of the enemy lines, given proper placing. Being able to toss juicy targets to your back lines to finish off is an excellent use, but so is tossing a hearty target into a support piece.
  • Gladiators bring the most valued animus to Skorne, Rush. The Gladiator is one of those iconic pieces that I love seeing on the board in every skorne army because it feels more like a skorne army, in my mind. Even if it is just to bring Rush. +2 speed and pathfinder is no joke and makes the seemingly slow titans much more agile that would seem at first glance.
  • Grand Slam + Follow up is an amazing combo. Gladiators will always slam for free, and they have +2″ on the distance that the target gets tossed, making it a 3-8″ movement. Follow up allowing you to move up to that distance and then buy attacks afterward is glorious. Sometimes, you just need one model out of the way, and another killed. Enter the Gladiator.
  • The Gladiator is extremely valuable as an animus generator, and most often will be in the back of your heard. This, however, is just fine. Most support beasts can’t drop  6 P+S 18 attacks in a given turn, and a second wave of Gladiators can be back breaking.
  • The Cannoneer brings a massive gun, which can do significant damage to most targets. P+S 15+3d6 easily rocks to 26 damage. Combined with the Bronzebacks Coutner-charge, and can easily threaten the first model to commit with becoming completely ineffectual. Additionally, 26 damage is no laughing matter to casters, especially ones that cannot transfer. 6 damage on some casters is all you need to get the upper hand.
  • Diminish is a great animus, and until now I was convinced it was living only. Like, just now. I realized my mistake looking at the card in warroom. -2 STR to all models is very, very good, especially since almost every model will be within its 2″ radius when making melee attacks.
  • The Sentry is an amazing Beast in that it has reach, Arm 21 and Locker. Locker is the primary reason you bring it, that and being an enormous road block. However, with Beat Back it becomes an unstoppable juggernaut from hell. Reach, Beatback and P+S 16 commits most troops to the dirt, and if that won’t, P+S 18 probably will under enrage, and finally if it gets really rough, Rasheth can pop his feat for P+S 22 v. Living. Like Cetratii, Gators, and Warders

I Apologize for Nothing. 

Dominar Rasheth is a strange and bizarre Skorne caster, and one that takes a little getting used to. His 8 Fury is the largest in the faction, but he has no melee, no ranged, and lumbers around at speed 4. He is unique among the faction in a number of ways, and I feel that the drawbacks he has are not nearly as terrible as they look from the outside.

  • His control area of 16 is massive. This allows an application of force easily across both zones, and only leaves about 7″ to either side of the board outside. While the faction has access to Willbreakers to extend the control area of low Fury warlocks, it is not the best option. Its good when you want to toss a beast out there to die, but it is not so great when you want to apply pressure. Additionally, the willbreakers are 13/13 with 5 boxes making them fairly easy to kill. When your relying on that single model to exist to apply force, the enemy will make all concerted efforts to kill them. a 16″ control that you can’t take out of the game is very, very key.
  • Black Arts looks underwhelming, to start off with. Your models take damage, you can only do it once a turn, and you are limited to warriors. Playing with it is a very different prospect. Not only are you not limited to faction models, incorporeal models don’t take damage, the damage dealt is not enough to kill most solos, forcing your opponent to dedicate resources to doing it, and you even get tough if you use Nihlators or Minions under the Taskmaster. The most advantageous part of the whole ability is the capacity for flexability. Simply with two units of Paingers or Paingivers/Bonegrinders you have so many possible arc nodes that your opponent can rarely have safe haven. Its an army of spell martyrs! (Now I want to try recurring them with Shamblers somehow)
  • His ability to be resistant to shooting is not to be underestimated. Though his armor is low, it might as well be 17 v. Shooting, (16 v. melee with diminish, 18 with the feat). Carnivore and his feat allow him to recoup any damage he sustained while going in, as well, allowing him more often than not to just eat the shots from guns and not care.
  • His feat, while conditional, is actually really, really good. Though it only affects living, it has a very limited selection of models that it isn’t good against. Warjacks, for one, and undead models, along with Constructs. Many, Many times, though, there is at least one high-value target that is alive that can be gutted with proper use of the feat. Knowing from the very outset whether or not your going to use your feat offensively or defensively is extremely helpful, as it allows you to advance, screen and set everything up properly. Often against Warmachine armies I will use the feat defensively, blunting the attacks of their living infantry against my Titans. The Sentry and the Cannoneer are arm 23 and 22 that turn, with the Bronzebacks bringing up the rear with a measly 21. Even against Hordes, there isn’t much that the Train can’t bring down and it is often used defensivly.
  • Finally, his spell list is pretty damned amazing, mostly for its utility.
    • Sunder Spirit can be a great game turner by taking out some of the best animus out there, when needed. Peeling Rush, Slipstream or even Wraithbaine change the tides. It also doubles as a direct fire weapon for the Dominar, with range 10 (12 with Farrow) and pow 12 being enough to eliminate many threats and deal significant damage to an enemy caster.
    • Breath of Corruption is a solid spell to clear out infantry when they bunch up, and nothing bunches up more than when they are trying to kill heavies. Additionally, it can make some casters very worried, as he can simply run an arc node within 4″ and just drop a Pow 12 shot of acid on their face. As a final note, it can also be used to protect your Titans from one wound, non-reach models. Due to the size of the template, anything that wants to get within 1/2″ in order to attack it will enter the cloud, then dying if it only has one wound. pretty fun!
    • Blood Mark, like many MKII spells, seems underwhelming. This one, however, makes me chortle, even though I’ve not cast it in some time. Simply putting Blood Mark on a big target and having P+S 20 Gladiators is good. Being able to transfer once to the target is just icing on the never gonna happen cake.
    • Carnivore is an awesome spell that helps the Sentry out a significant bit by putting it over the edge to MAT 7 against living. Thankfully, most unliving models are extremely low defense, and easily hit with his stock standard MAT 5. This also combos with Train Wreck quite well, giving Rasheth a huge pile of HP back if he needs them and having MAT 7 reach attacks with beat back. Eat a whole unit, it will. It also turns the Bronzeback up completely past 11. MAT 9 hits DEF 20 with boosted hits until he triggers Grab and Smash and headbutts or throws them to the ground. Little survives the minimum pow 17’s that follow.
    • Castigate is one of those spells that allow you to have game against some casters and that just isn’t useful in most situations. Being able to shut down Thorn, Goreshade 3’s Arcnode and any insane thing Sevy wants to do is extremely useful, when applicable.

Don’t forget the Little Guys

Even though there are only two units, they both bring a suite of abilities that help make the titans, and Rasheth, Shine.

Paingivers allow the amazing stock standard suite of abilities (Condition, Enrage, Medicate) A friend of mine brought something up today that I’d never thought of. Paingivers have Inflict Pain on their whips, and you can easily Enrage a beast with one, and then whip any remaining fury off with other models. I love that, after playing with these models for 8 years, that I am still oblivious to certain tactics that are just… so obvious.

The Bonegrinders offer a suite of abilities that I just adore in the list, and am very happy that I included them. While they were originally only to hit Tier 2, they will be in there forever. Craft talisman, allowing Rasheth to cast spells 2″ further than he normally would is great, but really its the surety of knowing that both my Bronzebacks or Gladiators can go down and I will still have the animus. Combine that with their ability to be arc nodes in the late game and a fairly good magic attack that adds a little pop to the list and for 2 points, I love the diversity they bring over a second unit of paingivers.

Parting Thoughts

In every game, power attacks have been one of, if not the, deciding factors for the game. Having 4 beasts with two open hands really makes a huge difference when you are looking at how to end the game. Sometimes, the dice can be fickle, and you just need to 2h Throw a model out the zone for the last point or two in a game. But there are also plenty of other aplications that don’t seem intuitive at the start. Throwing your own models into other models like wrecking balls. Slamming models with Gladiators to follow up into zones, even if you don’t care if they are dead. The Knockdown in the list is insane, honestly, and that isn’t something that most people are prepared for. Grand slams, Chain Attacks, simple headbutts and two handed throws are all options open to the savvy player who can think laterally. Its an army that rewards a solid knowledge of the rules and a strong, instinct to just go for it!

This one’s been long, and thanks for sticking through it, if you made it this far! Its been a pleasure!



To See the Void

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.

Continue reading



And now, Continued! 

(For an Image Gallery of the Games Click Here)

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
Gastonne Crosse
Dirty Meg
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.

Game: 304
Result: W
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

Vyros, Incissar
Nyss Hunters (x10)
Eiryss 2

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.

Game: 305
Result: L
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.




The Decision 

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.

On Specialists

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

Tyrant Xerxis
-Molik Karn
Cataphract Cetratii (6)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Arcuarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)
Tyrant Commander and Standard.

Venetor Cannon Crew
Venetor Cannon Crew
Venetor Catapult Crew
Tyrant Commander + Standard Bearer

Objective: Ammo Dump

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:

Tyrant Xerxis
-Molik Karn
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

Titan Gladiator
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.

Void Seer Mordikaar
-Cyclops Shaman
-Cyclops Raider
Cataphract Cetratii (6)
-Tyrant Vorkesh
Cataphract Incindiarii (4)
Nihilators (10)
Extoller Soulwarden
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)

Tyrant Commander and Standard
Swamp Gobbers
Orin Midwinter

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!



A Shift in Thought

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the way Skorne plays is that its a varied faction with different takes for almost every caster. What I didn’t enjoy, until recently, was that similarity to Cryx. I felt I had casters that did what the squishy Skorne casters sought to do, and better. After looking long and hard at the few casters that really grabbed me as Cryx-esque, though, I have to say I was wrong. Not only do Zaal, Hexerix, Mordikaar and Rasheth not feel Cryxian, they don’t play Cryxian. There are no debuffs, few lurking spell assassinations, and only just the littlest bit of numbers attrition. Instead, they offer a more magical-based or support based way to perform the Skorne Agenda.

The Skorne agenda, as I see it, is to attrition the enemy out of the game. Now, this has become the National meta with the rise of Fist of Halaak, Meat Mountain and other armies relying on high boxes and armor, but Skorne is one of the originators. From Mk I they were the faction that put pressure on your opponent no matter what they choose. Cryx, in MK II especially, have taken off as the attrition faction. Khador as well is a huge attrition faction, but each of these three take attrition to different angles. Trolls probably belong in here as the fourth corner of the star.

  • Cryx Attrition: Offensive attrition through masses of dangerous dudes that you have to simply wade through before you can win the game.
  • Khador Attrition: Defensive attrition through masses of dangerous dudes that you can’t hit, and therefor kill and have to find a way to get rid of before they crack you.
  • Skorne Attrition: Mixed attrition where every attack is a solid attack that can make you regret it existing, focusing on Beasts instead of troops for the finishing blow most of the time. .

Simply put, Cryx’s method of attrition is “Choke on This” Khador is “I’m going to get you!” and Skorne is “Try and stop me”

Forward Unto War

I am really psyched to go to the Philly Games Con next weekend and try out my lists against some people I never, ever get to play. I have hopes that I can do better than my last outing (2-3). I’ll be bringing Fist, simply because I know and am fairly solid with it, and very likely Makeda 2.

My problem now comes with deciding when to use what.

Fist is a great list, and can easily be thrown down in most situations in order to create a very solid chance at winning the game. Makeda’s list is a Swiss army knife of solutions and tools while the Xerxis list is, if you’ll forgive me, an iron fist.

This may sound like I beat a dead horse here fairly often, and it might be true. I don’t think that I am very good at seeing and choosing matchups. I see my skill and ability to play a list first and foremost as the decider of a game. I have had very bad matchups where I have either pulled out a win, or was close enough that I could taste it. These “80/20” matchups just don’t phase me. I will get all tickled, however, over certain Casters I have a feeling will assuredly be there. When Bradigus was all the rage, I focused a lot on him. Now, Knowing Mike Ireland plays Ossyan/Vyros2 almost all the time, I want to have a solution, and I am not sure that I do.

Here is the big thing: I feel confident in my ability to pilot an army, and to understand when I’ve failed to pilot it correctly, however, I don’t feel that I am gaining that opportunity to play into the best games I can. When both players are evenly matched, each one is looking for that little something that’s going to take them from x-1 to x-0. Tipping that scale from 60/40 in their favor to 60/40 in your favor is that edge that I think I need next.

With that said, I’m ready to try and take on the challenges of figuring out how the two lists I intend to take will fare, and am stoked to go. Hopefully, something will sink into my brain!



Existential Crisis Averted

A few weeks back, I ran a big ol’ Who’s the Boss event, and it was glorious. We had 14 people, and everyone had a blast. Unfortunately, a number of them had to drop, leaving an odd number at the end. That left me. I had brought an army for my friend to play, but he didn’t play, so I had an  army all ready to go.

It was the Cephalyx Army I was so jazzed about over the summer, and man its still good to this day, even without Thexus. I spun up Axis, and my friend played Trollbloods with Asphyxious 1. Unfortunately, in my long and illustrious career in Who’s the Boss, I have played a hot 4 games. Two of them have been Trollbloods ran by Apshyxious 1. Its a combo I do not relish.

Axis was fantastic to run with the Cephalyx, and it started to pull me back into orbit. Its honestly one of the most well built armies that PP has ever put out, and it shows. For a few days there, the gravity was almost to heavy to escape. I’ve just bought Fiona, I have Bart and Shae, I love Magnus and Magnus 2’s Tier Bad Seeds. But I did it.

I have thoroughly escaped the orbit, and am now dedicated, once again, to the Skorne Empire.

The Archdomina’s Retainer

Recently, I’ve played both fairly common builds of the most common incarnations of the Leader of the Skorne Empire: Makeda 1 and Makeda 2.

The first game I detailed before, using Makeda 2. That game showed me a ton about how the army can work against a tough, hard to kill army. This week I used the fairly standard Makeda 1 list against the Harbinger. Not the best matchup.

The lists were something as follows:

Archdomina Makeda 
– Cyclops Raider
– Mammoth
Cataphract Cetrati (6)
Nihilators (10)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)
Ancestral Guardian
Extoler Soulward
Mortitheurge Willbreaker
Saxon Orrik

Harbinger of Menoth
* Devout
* Judicator
Choir of Menoth (4)
Exemplar Bastions (5)
Horgenhold Forge Guard (10)
* Attendant Priest
High Paladin Dartan Vilmon
Knight Exemplar Seneschal
Nicia, Tear of Vengeance
Paladin of the Order of the Wall
Vassal Mechanik

We were playing in the Riven Bonds league, so we each had our League models to cram in. His is a Paladin, and mine the Ancestral Guardian. This caused a little bit of a shakeup in list design, but not all to much.

We did roll up a completely absurd scenario, however. The scenario is called The Traitors Trap.

Traitors Trap

It has a player-driven minefield, a 12″ circular zone in the center of the board, and 10″ deployment for both sides. Thankfully, neither of us were running Jam armies.

We both ran forward first turn, trying to get in the best position in order to try and capitalize on turn 2. I however, should have known better. Harbinger can be a raging pain in the ass if you’ve never played against her, and I have a bunch, so while it wasn’t a surprise that he popped his feat on turn 2, like all the harbinger players do, I wasn’t ready for it. I had jammed myself up behind my lines massively, having not played Makeda 1, so I was way, way back there, probably within 8″ of the board edge bottom of turn 2. The Mammoth got savagery, and I had to put myself into danger range of the feat in order to get Defenders ward on the Cetratii, who were going to be eating pow 14’s on the way in. The mammoth sauntered over 9″ to get deep into the unfortunate business of the Horgenhold, shrugging off the feat on the way in. He blew apart a number of dwarves between his initials and his 5 fury, but they proved to be insanely dodgy and I didn’t get as many as I’d have liked. However, as I said to my opponent the next round as they all charged: you know whats worse than 5 charging Forgeguard? 10. The Cetratii charged as well. They were clearly in threat range of the Judicator and the Bastions, so I couldn’t just hold tight. They were going to go out in a blaze of glory. Most of them took significant damage on the way in, but Defenders Ward came up clutch, reducing all of it by 2. I slammed a ton of damage into the Judicator, and did a large lump of damage to the Bastions as well. I was pleased with the last stand of this cetratii unit. the Nihilators , seeing what was going to happen to them had they closed the gap with the harbinger, simply took a few steps back and made ready for next turn.

This was when we were able to detonate the mines. I had placed one behind the wall that I knew Harbinger would stand behind, and he had placed one in the center of the path I had to take to the game. He won the roll, and blew up a couple Nihilators .

His retaliation was swift and brutal. Charging Horgenhold whacked off 40% of the Mammoths health, Judicator swept and killed all 4 Cetratii engaging her, and the bastions took down their two. The losses I took were significant, but I had stalled the other army out. I was now looking at eliminating all of the forge Guard and possibly Judicator. I had hope of taking out Bastions, but I should have known better.

My next turn was a dozy. It was make or break and I knew it. The mammoth took a sidestep-turn and she, too, swept, killing the rest of the forgeguard and a bastion. The Nihilators charged, getting in the way of Judicator, and the Bastions.
Then, I popped feat and did this:


If you can’t see it, that’s Makeda, just a few inches from the center of the board, full camped, standing in front of Judicator, 4 Bastions, and the Seneschal with only 7 Nihlitors to protect her. My balls were in the wind, but it was time to sink or swim.

It looked bad for the home-team, though, as the turn progressed. The Paladin Hero kills one. The Bastions and the Seneschal kill one, though its the one closer to the Mammoth. an ancillary attack from the Vassal kills to more. Even the Harbinger gets in on the action, moving forward and detonating a cataclysm on the one engaging the Judicator, annihilating it. Now, the road is free for the Judicator to charge, and man, he gets there. He boosts the charge attack, needing 7’s and sinks it right into Makeda. Boosted damage at dice +6 is extremely painful, and he drops 19 damage fist that I transfer to the Raider. The next attack to connect is his first bought attack, and he wails me again for some 15 damage, that I transfer over to the Mammoth. both beasts are alive, but just barely. Judicators out of focus, and I have a single Nihlitor, knocked down, standing almost dead center of the table.

My feat triggers, I bring back 6 Nihilators, and surround Harbinger. Makeda Goes first, pops Carnage, and charges the wounded Judicator. My combo strike does significant damage, but fails to kill it Judy. The AG follows up and finishes the job. Now, I let the Nihilators go, expecting to leave harbinger alive.

out of 6 attacks against harbinger, only the second missed. Dice -2 on 3 hits take her down.

That was one of the most fun games I’ve had in warmachine in a while. I rarely get to play against this specific friend, and it was refreshing to hang out and have a good time.

I really enjoyed the Ancestral Guardian, actually, as his defensive strike is an amazingly potent deterrent. Arm 18 and 10 wounds caps that off, making people fear simply being near him. The Mammoth, too, was a freaking blast! Rolling in deep with Savagery makes all of the difference, with his threat range being equal to speed 6 Reach troops.

I did mess up massively, though. Deploying Makeda 1, just like Makeda 2, behind my troops was a real punishing start to the game. I was behind that red house on turn 2, because I needed to have Defenders Ward and Savagery out there to pull purification focus off her. Yes, its only 3, but that brings her down to a normal focus 7 Caster. Shooting on turn 1 with the Mammoth was also a mistake, as I thought range 14 was a lot longer than it was. I also think that Range 10 is a lot shorter than it is, so I kept sniping models when I didn’t need to in both directions.

These last two games have done wonders for my love of Skorne, and their ability to do things other than just grind down with The Fist. I know why, however, there could be problems playing into these extremely powerful matchups. I felt like I was loosing that whole damned game, and until I managed to magic it up at the end, I just didn’t think I’d come up with it.
I also now know why the Cannoneer is in the Rasheth List. I;d love to tag Harbinger with that gun!