Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Road To Adepticon - Skorne Hardcore

It's April, and for many of us gamers, that means one thing. Adepticon. This will be my second year making the trip up to Adepticon with the BOLS crew. While I don't actually post articles on BOLS, I like to claim alleigence to the group since most of the main contributors are members of our local gaming club and regular opponents of mine. Last year I went for 40k, for the maiden voyage of my Harlequin army. This year 40k sold out in about 12 hours, so I decided instead of trying to get on a waiting list I would just go for Warmachine.

Last year's Adepticon was awesome. I played great games with great new opponents, got a really nice bag of swag, saw Chicago, and met all of my goals for the event (win half of my games, play someone famous on the Internets, get my army photographed one someone else's blog/site). I have high hopes for this year, even though it will be my first large event for warmachine. I haven't made goals yet for this event, but I still have a month.

I did reach one milestone this week. I am now 100% painted! that's right, 3 50 point armies, completely painted to a standard that I like (I would rate myself as high tabletop quality. nothing more, but it's not embarrasing at least). I'll post some pictures in the next day or two, as I have been slacking on the hobby update threads. Now that everything is painted, I'm pretty locked in to what I will be running. I might swap some models around, but it should be basically the same going in.

This article will be the first of several leading up to Adepticon where I talk about my choices of lists and what I am planning to do. I'm not nearly competitive enough to worry about "giving away my secrets" or anything like that, and writing things out help me process my plan and army. Today we'll start with Hardcore, since that will be the first event of the weekend for me.

First, a really quick rundown of the event in case some people haven't heard of a Hardcore tournament before. Each player gets one 50-point list for the event. all games will be playing Close Quarters with Killbox. The time limits are cut down from a normal 50-point game. Adepticon uses Deathclock for all their events, so this event will be using 37 minute time limits. this is a huge cut from the 53 minute deathclocks for the normal 50 point events.

The idea is, you put these special rules together and it should be a fast paced smackdown in the middle of the board. Scenario wins are unlikely with this format, needing to control the opponent's zone and have your caster very close to the enemy. it's interesting because scenario casters don't usually want to be that close to the middle of the field, and the casters that can get that close are usually assassins and aren't trying for zone points. Killbox will force the casters closer together of course, but I don't expect to be pushing for scenario wins.

The time limits are harsh. Deathclock helps a little bit. when I made my list, the event was still scheduled to use normal timed turns, meaning 7 minutes a turn. It is very difficult to get an entire 50 point army activated in 7 minutes. Deathclosck still gives us very cramped turns, but you can at least try for an early assassination if you need more than 7 minutes per turn.

With all of this in mind, it didn't take me long to pick my Hardcore caster, pMorghoul. Morghoul is one of my all-time favorites in Skorne. I played him a ton in the journeyman league and felt a little burned out with him, but I recently picked him back up. I've come to realize that I was more burned out from using two Savages in every single list than I was on using Morghoul. he fills so many roles and has some awesome tricks that will really help in a hard-core setting. as a bonus, he tends towards lots of beasts, which means less models. I originally considered "dual barrel" eMakeda (I'll talk about that next time), but found that 12 swordsmen with vengeance just doesn't make for quick turns. Morghoul can get in, smack things around and get out in a very short turn.

the Voldo of Warmachine

So let's take a look at Morghoul. As a battlebox caster, I feel like he gets overlooked often. people play him while learning the game, then "move on". I think this tends to make them think of Morghoul as a beginner caster, or only remember all the losses they took with him as a new player. I feel like he has a ton of power hidden behind that awesome mask.

I like to start with a new caster by looking at their feat. pMorghoul has one of the most ridiculous feats in the faction, if not in Hordes. It's not on par with some of the killer feats on the Warmachine side, but it's still very powerful. If Morghoul had a bigger control range it would go from solid to amazing. against Warmachine, the feat means no casters OR jacks spending focus in his 10" range. against Hordes, beasts can't be forced or transferred to. against Warmachine it is purely defensive. you're going to limit certain casters by not letting them spend focus in his 10" range, others won't care. but you will cripple jacks for a turn.

Against hordes, you still get the ability to totally shut down beasts (no animi, no charges, bought attacks, boosts...) and can also pull out a surprise assassination if your opponent was relying on several fury for transfers. this is the part most people forget about, and can really hurt someone who doesn't see it coming.

Morghoul is a 5 fury caster, and as such has a very limited spell list. He has a magic missile, Torment, which I have used twice in total. it's not good, but it does prevent healing and transfers, which can be useful in very specific circumstances.

His signature spell is Abuse. +2 Strength and Speed should not be underestimated. the possibilities are endless. who doesn't like more speed and heavier hits on their big guys? I won't list all the combinations, but just remember this will usually be stacked with Rush and Enrage. you can have a rhinodon charge 12" plus reach, threshering at pow 18. you can have a bronzeback charge 11.5 inches, drop 2 huge pow 21 hits and then chain-throw the model a whopping 8.5" either away from their caster or at their caster's head. Morghoul will cast this every turn at least once

And finally he has Admonition. this spell makes any caster a pain. you can start by putting it on a Bronzeback to get all kinds of extra movement (Hyper aggressive, counter-charge, admonition) and then cycle it to Morghoul when he has to get closer to the enemy. It's a really simple spell, but such a pain for most opponents.

He has a ton of special rules. it makes certain casters cry when they see all the special rules Morghoul ended up with. He's an upgraded paingiver, so he has inflict pain and anatomical precision. This means he can kill infantry easily or knock some fury off of a beast (friend or foe!). He has perfect balance, making him even more slippery. he has sprint and overtake, letting him plow through several enemy single-wound models and then run away (without free strikes). He has maltreatment, giving him 6 Fury a turn. and he has a special rule on his blades giving him 2 attacks for every fury spent, which can give him a total of 14 attacks if he does nothing else. he is a whirlwind of destruction if you let him play against lots of living infantry. It really is fun when it happens. I've had him kill off 3 Errants, 2 paladins and Gorman in one activation, then run away laughing.

He even comes with a good statline. very high speed for Skorne, very nice MAT, and amazing base defense. he balances this out with 5 Fury and pitiful ARM. but if I had to choose between high Def and high Arm, I choose Def every time.

Put it all together and you have a pretty sweet little caster. He buffs beasts well, protects them from enemy heavies, and brings some serious hurt to infantry (cutting down on how much infantry you need in your own list.) this all points him to being a beast caster, and that's how I will be running him.

The list

* Bronzeback
* Gladiator
* Cannoneer
* Rhinodon
* Shaman
* Brute

Master Tormentor
Extoller Soulward
Orin Midwinter
max paingivers
min paingivers

one bronzeback is all it takes

So we have 4 heavies (well, one is the rhinodon. he still can't decide if he's a heavy or a light), 2 lights, and no infantry screen. we do have an assortment of Skorne solos, with all of the standbys showing up. and lots of paingivers. I will be surprised if I run out of paingivers during a game.

The beasts are all pretty obvious. Shaman helps get rush out there and knocks off any annoying spells that stick to my guys. the Brute is an auto-include with a def 17 caster with admonition. He is totally worth 5 points with Morghoul even if my opponent never lets me shield-guard. the cannoneer will almost always have eyeless sight from the soulward and will be dropping support units/solos or taking chunks out of jacks/beasts.

The agonizer is a must with Morghoul. against Warmachine it prevents enemy casters from ignoring the feat by using arc nodes, and keeps those jacks shut down on later turns. against Hordes, it is a piece of the puzzle for making a very sad turn on feat turn (explained in a minute).

the master tormentor and the rhinodon give me some great infantry clearing abilities, and almost always make me happy by the end of a match. Orin also helps with this job when he's not pissing off druids or casters.

Lets look at a few specific tricks. Note, these are not general strategies, they are just tools to keep in mind when using a list like this. first off, my goal will almost always be to knock down the enemy caster. some are immune to that, so I find other ways to kill them. I will not be trying for scenario wins, I am focusing on killing the caster that is forced to come close to me. If I can drop a caster, it should die to this list. So how do I go about knocking things down?

Option 1: Bronzeback Smash! enrage, abuse and rush go on Big B. he charges a heavy model that is within 11.5" of himself and 10.5" of the enemy caster. Free charge, pay 1 for Train Wreck. Boost both initials to get the chain attack, boost chain attack. you've used 4 fury now, so you can use one more to boost the hit on the caster for the 2-handed throw. And most models won't be breaking a Str 17 double-handed throw. the caster will take a pow 17 and be knocked down.

Option 2: Poor Rhinodon... I will go ahead and assume that my opponents won't just line up their caster behind a heavy to let the Gladiator slam them. but I can do the same thing with my models. safeguard goes on the Rhinodon, he either runs or charges so that he is in a line between my gladiator and the enemy caster. the gladiator slams his from behind with +2" on the distance roll, bouncing him through any medium and small bases in the way. with Reach, the rhino should be engaging the enemy caster after the slam, making it tougher to get away if they don't die this turn.

There are other ways to knock down casters, but these are some of my favorites. once the caster is knocked down, almost any Skorne beast with abuse and enrage will kill it. I also have a surprising amount of shooting in this list. the shaman has a 16" threat range that ignores everything between him and the target. the soulward has a short range but packs a whallop, and the cannoneer can get an impressive threat range with abuse and rush up.

I have one other Morghoul tactic I wanted to mention. With his small control range, my army will often be taking the charge and doing our damage on the counter charge. so we need a good way to mitigate the incoming damage. this is also useful as a counter to Saeryn's feat when I lose a turn. To get set for a defensive turn, I usually put the Rhinodon up front with Admonition up as bait. the next line is my Shaman and cannoneer. they both put up the cannoneer's animus giving -2 Str to enemies within 2". The agonizer is next, with his 9" bubble of -2str to beasts. morghoul can then feat, making it impossible for beasts to buy additional attacks. Now the opponent has a choice. they can charge in and be at -4Str and no boosting with their beasts, or they can take a Skorne charge next turn. Obviously this is geared to fight hordes, but it sure does work against them!

That's all for today. in the next few days I will be putting up pictures of the painted armies, and giving rundowns of ym other 2 lists for the Masters, and my team list for sunday. thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on my Morghoul list or tactics, or post your own lists for the hardcore event.

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