Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Skorne Tiers - eHexeris

Let's talk about Tier forces. When I started playing Warmachine, tier forces sounded really neat. As you know if you've followed my blog at all, I used to be a 40K player. "Fluffy" armies always had a strange appeal to me. They might not be as powerful as a spammy netlist, but they were unique and interesting. Other than personal satisfaction, though, 40K didn't offer any benefits to playing fluffy armies. Warmachine, on the other hand has these neat theme forces that reward you for taking things that fit well with a certain caster.

I've always wanted to play a theme force. Unfortunately, most theme forces are really difficult to make, or they just don't do much. Some armies have some really strong tiers (butcher + doom reavers, Jake's eVayl T4, eKreoss infantry swarm, Mortenebra with tons of jacks) or theme forces that open up some cool options (reznik with steelheads, eSkarre with a ton of Satyxis, etc). Unfortunately, I've been pretty discouraged by Skorne's tier lists.

It's not that we don't have any good tiers, they're just hard to build. I'm not commited enough to playing tier forces that I'm going to get multiple units of karax or bloodrunners or swordsmen. I could do Rasheth, but I just don't like his sculpt. I could do Mordikaar, but I would need 2 more void spirits and 2 feralgeists, and not use paingivers. Surely there has to be a theme force I can run when I feel like playing something different, but won't require buying a ton of models that will only be played in that theme force.

My answer (along with answers to a lot of Skorne's problems) came with Domination. Probably the second best thing to come from that book is eHexeris (I pretty firmly believe that eVayl was the single best thing in Domination). Recently I started playing with his theme force, Practical Magic, and have been loving it. It's a bit of a strange theme, but it's deceptively good. And easy to build, which is great for me. Let's take a look at the requirements and my Tier 4 list.

Tier 1: contains non-character beasts; paingivers, praetorian units, venator units; agonizers, void spirits, Ancestral Guardian solos, Extoller solos. Benefit: for each Extoller in the army, one beast gets to use its animus for free for 1 turn.

Not too shabby. eHexeris doesn't mind not taking Karn or Tiberion, you still get swordsmen and paingivers and venators of either type. it even includes the agonizer. the benefit is worthless (with Fury 7, you need your beasts to be forced turn 1), but that's ok - this is only T1

Tier 2: Three or more Ancestral Guardian Solos. Benefit: Free Ancestral Guardian (non-character)

This is the biggy. to get past Tier 1, you need 4 AG solos. this is probably why Tier 1 is so unrestrictive. On the flip side, a free AG is a great deal. Take Hakaar and 3 AGs, and it's like you only spent 2 points on each AG. I'll talk more on this in a bit.

Tier 3: two or more units. Benefit: 2 extra inches on deployment

This is probably the easiest requirement in any tier force in the game. I've done T4 in a fight club game, taking a min unit of paingivers and a Skornapult. in most games you want more than that (those AGs aren't going to fuel themselves!). but really, you should have no trouble taking one infantry unit + paingivers. Bigger deployment zones are great in any theme force.

Tier 4: three or more warbeasts. Benefit: Advance Deployment on your bonded buddy.

Seriously? you're going to give Skorne a benefit for bringing a measly 3 beasts with a 7 Fury caster? I don't even play with less than 3 beasts with infantry casters. the benefit is lots of fun as well. there are lots of discussions on who to bond to Hexy, almost all of them like AD. I personally like the bronzeback as an arc node. Beat back makes him really good at moving away from stuff that's trying to tie him up, or he'll just kill whatever was trying to keep him from arcing. I really like seeing my opponent's face when I tell them I'm done deploying, except for my AD bronzeback.

I've been running Tier lists off and on since Adepticon this year. after Adepticon was over, I was looking at my lists and realized that I was tier 1 with eHexeris just using the list I had built for the 'con. All I had to do was drop a Canonneer and min my paingivers to add in Hakaar and 3 Ancestral Guardians. I already had everything else I needed to hit tier 4.

So far I've run Tier 4 in a 35 point tier-only event and took 3rd place with a really slimmed down version of my main list (Hakaar + AGs is tough to fit into 35 pts). I ran tier 4 with fight club restrictions for a summer rampage event (using min paingivers and a catapult as my 2 units at 50 points...). Usually I only run his tier list at 50 points. Here's the list I've been using lately:

Lord Arbiter Hexeris
    * Bronzeback Titan (bonded)
    * Titan Gladiator
    * Cyclops Raider
    * Cyclops Shaman
3 X Ancestral Guardians
Hakaar the Destroyer
Extoller Soulward
max paingivers
max swordsmen + ua
venator catapult crew

Depending on my other lists, I often swap out the catapult crew for Marketh. I've been running him alongside a beast-heavy pMakeda build, though, and she gets Marketh every time.

I enjoy playing the list. it's a bit different than my normal lists (only having 2 heavies feels wrong sometimes), but so far it has performed pretty well for me. eHexeris has a very strong spell list that works well with lots of different builds. This build is probably not the best way to play eHexeris, but it's a fun list that plays differently than most opponents expect. only having 2 heavies is a bit misleading, as you also have 40 boxes of Arm 18 (or more in Hakaar's case) Guardians to get through. 3 defensive strikes and a righteous vengeance in the list also messes with angles and order of activation.

I'll be giving this list its first real test this weekend. A good number of us from Austin will be heading up to Waco fro the second annual Clash For a Cure. Last year it was a fun little event that was a bit bigger than the gaming store could hold, but it still felt very much like a local tournament. This year it is taking a step towards looking like a 'con, with a 2 day format (including a Masters event) and a hotel venue. I really enjoyed last year, and I'm really looking forward to the changes this time around.

Day 1 will be a 50-point steamroller (or two of them, side by side) with 2 lists. I'll be running the eHexeris list above paired with pMakeda and a ton of character models.

If I qualify (top 10 from each steamroller), I'll be doing the masters - 3 lists, 35 points. I'm not 100% decided on lists yet, but it won't be a normal spread... if I don't qualify I'm looking at doing a funny Xerxis highlander list.

I'll probably try to at least copy down opponents' lists and do a brief summary at the end of the event. this is the last real event of the year, so I want to try to get some battle reports out of it. Of course, the better I do the more inclined I'll be to talk about it.


  1. Nice post, and very interesting. I will have to start running eHexeris in tier.

    How has the list been doing so far? My biggest worry would be soul management, since you have a lot of models who can claim souls.

    1. The list has been doing pretty well for me. I've only had 2 losses recently with it, both in the same tournament. one was a deathclock loss on a game I was ahead on attrition. that was my fault more than the list. the second loss was vs eGaspy, which I always have trouble against. the game ended with 1 bane thrall, deathjack and Gaspy on the table, and I was down to just Hexy.

      Soul management isn't too big an issue for me. Generally, I've found that Black Spot really helps overcome any lack of souls. Usually the soulward isn't using his souls, so he can give them out where needed on an important turn. he's mostly there for eyeless sight. one AG and Hakaar usually go with the swordsmen, and that unit is enough to fuel both of them. one stays back with Hexeris for protection and late game attacks, and one takes a flank. the flanking one hunts enemy flanking solos, and can usually make his points back even if he doesn't nab souls during the game.

      You won't ever have all your AG's full like you would in a Zaal list, but I've been finding that AG's are not terrible when they don't have souls, especially with black spot support. and in this list they effectively cost 2 points each, making it really easy for them to make back points.