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.
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.
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.
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!