It has been more than two years since I wrote about Skorne, but I figured that now, as the CID for Skorne’s Exalted Host drives to an end, I should write something about it, and how I feel. So, Here we are. let’s do this rundown, bit by bit.
My Friend who’s been doing the Guest posts and me, we’ve talked a bit about the CID and what we want from it, where it is going, what it provides to the Theme, and I’ve read plenty of posts and many of the portions of the Dev Chat regarding Makeada 3. So I’m coming into this semi-Educated, and want to get at least a little bit of a perspective at the end. Some things may change tomorrow, though I doubt it.
Overall, I’m semi-disappointed that, like a couple other CID’s the additive models have outshone the new models in testing and Feedback. I know that this is true of at least Makeada 3 and Denny1/Ghost Fleet, and I have fleeting memories of others. That said, that is possibly fine in this circumstance as there are only 3 models to be talked about that are brand new, and the Supreme Guardian, who is pretty cool in his own right.
Let’s take a look at those three real quick, in their final forms.
The First one here is Abidan. He’s a new solo for the Exalted theme, and to be honest, I was surprised that he was a small based solo, though that is a cool direction for a model to go. Its an interesting and different take than another type of Ancestral Guardian, and I like it. The model is super cool as well.
He’s slightly faster than a standard Exalted Host model, which is fun, and he’s got a solid MAT 7, 8 with Hakaar. Other than that, he’s pretty standard.
Flank is an interesting rule here, as it allows him to be up close and personal with the Ancestral Guardians and can possibly disengage them so that they can be on their way and do their own thing the following turn, likely giving the all-important resonance to a unit of Immortals after moving into a position to put up a juicy defensive strike.
The Immortal Companion rule is flavorful, strange, and just flat out cool. He is a forever returning solo with a possible P+S 15+ Weaponmaster attack on the charge that can simply Exist as a threat forever, especially with Zaal 1, who can also grant him Rage Tokens.
Shield Guard is especially cool because while taking a shot for a guardian or a caster will almost always spell his doom if he does die his friends the Ancestral Guardians will just scoop him up and put him back into play. It also gives him, combined with the immortal companion, something to do while up in the center of the fracas that allows him to do work and get killed in order to set up an interesting play the following turn from one of your Ancestral Guardians. Teleport him across the board simply by saving your friend from an ignominious death!
I don’t think that Abidan is an extremely compelling solo, but I will likely take him anyway. I love characters, and I love his pose, and he is a solid enough model under his circumstances, that of an ever returning flanking solo with shield guard, that I can see him not really requiring a specific reason to be taken and still have him perform admirably. I really hope he overperforms, though, because it would be great to see him be a valued member of the team.
The big boy! What can I say! He’s come out quite the beast, and though I think he is powerful, strong, and solid, I don’t think he’s over the top. He’s ARM 19 with 34 boxes, which is right around, if I remember correctly, a point of armor less than a Khador ‘jack, and we’ve been killing them for years.
He’s a huge support piece that is looking to get in the game as soon as possible while also playing support. It’s a good role for him to be in and it allows for him to sit back a touch and play the waiting game, Vortexing and returning models to the game so that the exalted, or Masters of War, the list can get the attrition swinging in the right direction, and then come in and play clean up all on his own at the end of the game, likely pushing the last half of a Colossal or Gargantuan off the board easily, or taking out trooper models that are standing in the way of scoring a zone.
I do not deny that he is powerful or strong, but he is very much the correct side of strong, a fun piece that is scary for your opponent and a bit of an investment for you to make sure gets across and punches your friend right good in the face. I’m excited to see if the combination of Direct Spirits and Well of Rage interact in the way I want them too.
I look forward to putting this giant bastard on the board one day, and he is the reason I will likely paint Skorne again and also finish up my immortal host list first. He won’t make any sense painted as an immense terracotta warrior, but he’ll still look cool. His onboard presence, though, is also strong enough to compel me to make a list or two that features him. He’s fragile enough – We’ve been shooting down Khador Jacks for 15 years, he’s just as fragile – without any shooting defenses that it makes you feel like you have to spend more than his generous 16 points in order to protect him. That isn’t always a bad thing, but it may not be needed all of the time. He also brings a solid heavy beater to a list or two that may struggle – as much as Skorne can ever struggle – to break down some of the larger targets in the game. With P+S 18 (20 with the below Novititate) and Seige weapon, if he has three souls he can easily deliver an expected 52 damage against a Huge base with 20 armor, though few sit that low anymore, and 36 against a large base model. Its a model that has serious potential and I want to see it on my table, returning models to the game and setting up for late game smitings.
The Extoller Novititate is an interesting but not really compelling piece of tech in the Exalted theme. He has some interesting abilities, and Stones’ Wrath is very good, but his 2 point price tag is hefty. Now, with the reduction in cost in a good number of models across the CID, I do think he is likely to fit into more lists more often, but he is also likely going to be one of the first models cut.
Along with many people, I find the prevalence of Tough and no knockdown to be both stupid and irritating. It isn’t a fun or enjoyable ability on either side of the board and leads to an easy perspective shift where one player believes that the dice were in control of the game through confirmation bias and often into a tilt. I would much prefer anything else, to be honest, even up to and including cutting the rule and making him 1pt. Seriously. Don’t make a rule with a downside, and then have the downside overcome so often that being susceptible to it is an actual laughable moment on the board.
all of that said about the fury involved in a model having tough and no knockdown, his smallish tough aura, and his fairly weak stature make up for it in a number of ways, allowing him to be killed with only a modicum of effort unless we are also playing a shield guard or two, which adds to the cost of the overall combination.
Overall, I don’t really like the Novititate. Everything from his strange name that everyone will get wrong to his part in spreading Tough-No Knockdown, He just doesn’t seem a compelling part of the Exalted Host. Repair seems to come down to just a few pieces that he’ll likely not be near, and in at least one caster (Zaal2) it’ll often be redundant. I’d love to see him get time and me be proven wrong because I enjoy models being good and don’t enjoy models being bad, but I don’t see where it happens.
The Immortal Vessel is a very compelling model in many armies, but won’t be worth the cost in others. Unsurprisingly for a model that you can arc from. he’s going to be a piece that, when included is critical, but when it is left out, its absence will not be felt.
Speed 5 is pretty fast for an immortal, but run 10″ isn’t great for many of the spells that want to take advantage of arcing spells. Speaking of which, it is important to note that he does not have an arc node, but is instead a channeler. There are a couple rules out there that directly affect arc nodes that you’re going to be immune to, though they are few and far between. Phrases like “Lose the arc node advantage” will often be interpreted as “cannot channel” so keep an ear out and read all your rules. Telemetry, in combination with his channeler ability, is where this model with shine through. Sunder Spirits, Hex Blasts, Nights Reflections, and Mortalities have found a way to miss pretty often with the low general fury of the faction. Telemetry, as long as you remember not to be in the 2″ dead zone for most of those spells, helps many of those spells go further because they hit more often, its a great rule that means a bump in effectiveness for more than a few models in the faction.
His gun is great, all of the spirit eyes are to be completely honest, but that and his halberd are not what they are in the army for. We all know that they are simply throw away models that can channel spells, though a fairly durable one with 17 armor and 5 boxes.
I really like the flexibility that this model brings to all of the themes it is allowed is as an immortal extoller. Bringing to bear more of Skornes offensive spells will be a boon, as they have some fairly strong ones. Some casters already have their own Channeling opportunities, and some do not have any spells they want to channel, but for the remaining, I think this model will see a bunch of play.
This Lady and her friends really caused a stir in the CID, and that drove me absolutely nuts. Like many instances during the CID, as I mentioned earlier, the focus on her seemed to outstrip the focus on the real models in the theme. Regardless, the discussion around her on both sides was extremely heated.
For perspective, Makeada 3 is one of the most underused casters in the faction, turning in a competitive use rate something less than Xeekar, which is pretty abysmal as he is considered the worst in the faction. Instead, She is relegated to a few niche slots and has a specific target she wants to play with, namely infantry. she is a push button solution to infantry hordes, and that seemed fine, just not needed in the current meta where everyone it taking mixed arms or heavy spam, and the need or desire to kill every single wound infantry model on the board isn’t really needed.
And, let us be brutally honest here, it’s not a new concept. Gerlak, MKII Whitemanes, Ravagers, Bloodgorgers, MKI Wolf Riders, Madrak II’s Feat, Thunderhead, Hexy I, Caine I – they all trivially delete infantry and have since the game began. Infantry positioning and model threat ranges have always been a problem to be solved in this game, and there are more and more ways to do it wrong every release cycle. Sprays, AOE’s and multiple attack models that can move are an everpresent thing, and it is needed in this game to keep infantry in check. For two editions, Infantry ran roughshod over the game because there weren’t enough methods, and they weren’t effective enough, in the game to scare the opponent into not taking double infantry spam lists.
Her ability to destroy infantry wasn’t a problem prior to the CID and she wasn’t a competitive of compelling warlock either. To see her go back and forth like that was crazy, and generated much debate. The problem as I see it is that the developers liked to incite on her, and decided that in order to keep incite because Hand of Death and Incite were just a touch to efficient, Hand of Death had to go. This is not the change that the CID testers would have made. They would have if given their druthers, seen incite go and Hand of Death stay.
It’s clear that the most compelling part of Makeada 3 was sending a warbeast out to destroy a unit or two worth of models, maybe get a Heavy along the way, but gain an attrition advantage through the use of the feat and the loss of the heavy. Trading that strength for the static and, maybe, numerically better +2/+2 for incite is retreading the same ground that made the Skorne faction need a complete rework at the beginning of MK III. Good numbers are great, but you want a faction to do fun, interesting and over the top stuff. You want to build an army that makes your list feel like it has a leg up. Very few people are looking for that 50/50 matchup, and instead, hunt for that elusive 80/20.
Anyway, I’m done talking about that. Let’s talk about what we actually have.
New for CID:
First along the lines is Overtake on the Unit. This is a new addition as of the last update, but it makes sense. PP is trading the desire for the player to delete all the infantry for the risk of having your caster, and her two unit members if it comes down to it, in harm’s way in order to do it. They are trading a safe methodology for one that is not inherently as safe. I think that is acceptable and enjoyable. Few people don’t like telling the story where their caster killed 1100 enemy models.
In addition to getting a new ability in hir final go-round, she also has a few new spells.
Bladded Gale is an amusing one, but I don’t really expect to cast it. A cost 3 pow 13 spray 8 is very good, and if she had some way to channel it, it would be great… But she often has better things to do, like smash infantry.
Bulwark is a spell, stolen from Durst, that giver her some protection on the way up the field. It has counterplay to it, as the benefits only last as long as you’re in base to base, and that can be scrapped pretty easy either by killing the target or moving it, but that is likely fine. DEF 16+ models vs Ranged attacks seems like a really tough nut to crack. Many people are very excited and/or worried about this spell, but I don’t find it that compelling. It probably means I’ve lost my mind.
Deathbringers is a spell stolen from Aiakos 1 in order to return that Hand of Death feeling to her battlegroup. While it is melee weapons only, it is still extremely useful. The prevalence of tough-no-knockdown is high enough that being able to remove tough from the table is really useful. Additionally, playing into Primal Terrors is a bit easier when you rarely have to worry about healing. I like this spell being in her kit a whole bunch.
The final change to her card is the one that got everyone up in arms, though indirectly and changed her basic playstyle, causing a ripple through the faction. Incite is a really good spell that innately causes the caster to be placed in danger. +2 to hit and +2 to damage are huge swings, shifting the balance of power decidedly in her favor. Now, she does need to be within 10″ of the target, and there is no way around it. Then, if that target lives, you get to get your face crushed by it. However, it is often worth both the price tag and the risk, as you can bend the game into your favor very quickly with a good incite turn. It does, at a cost of 4, cost most of her stack and forces her to do less during that turn that she would otherwise, though she still has both bloodboon and (likely) marketh.
I am on the fence about Makeada 3, and I don’t know that I’ll know anything more about her before she is released and others make a judgment on her. She seems to have a risky, self-involved playstyle that forces the opponent to be warry with their positioning of their models or risk a very angry Makeada 3 surfing the dead to the casters face and then smoothly removing it with a few MAT 10 P+S 19 whacks. Her battlegroup now seems secondary to her, and even any troops she brings are left on their own, as she has nothing to make them stronger or better.
I thought that I was going to do an article on all the changes, but this one has gone way long as it is. Next time, I’ll go over the smaller changes to the army of the models that aren’t new to the faction or had a total caster rework.
Until next time,
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