Friday, March 22, 2013

Lock and Load prep - Part 1

We're going to take a break from your regularly scheduled blogging this week. Unfortunately, I wasn't actually able to get down to the gaming store this week to continue my Mammoth battle reports. So I guess you'll just have to wait until next week to see if I can manage to essence blast a Mammoth all over an enemy caster.

With all these fun new releases coming out, and all my playing with proxied models, I haven't been focusing very much on my competitive lists. I've been dabbling with Ret, and playing a lot of my casters that are more fun to play, but not really the ones I reach for in tournaments. Unfortunately, that got me a bit rusty with my standard casters (as evidenced by my pMorghoul and eMakeda battle reports...). And with Lock and Load coming up in a mere two months, I need to start focusing a bit.

Over the next two months, I will be trying to nail down some choices on what casters and lists I want to use for Lock and Load (and WarGamesCon the very next weekend). And of course once I get my casters picked, I need some serious practice with them. I'll be talking about my lists and prep on my blog as I go.

Oh, and before I go any further. For all of you new Skorne players, or people trying to hammer out some Skorne lists for fun. I have seen more posts with the following two errors than I know what to do with. I'm tired of posting the same thing every time I see one of these comments, so I'm going to just let it out by posting it in my blog.

#1. You do not want to put the Reptile Hound animus on pMorghoul or Makeda3. this is unfortunate, since they are the main ones that would want to ignore tough but hey, that's Skornergy for you. Take Down removes a model from play at Boxed. RFP is generally a nice thing to have, but in the case of Skorne it messes with a lot of our stuff. pHexeris is always listed as the biggest offender of Skornergy and it is ALL because of the interactions between our abilities and RFP. in the cases of Morghoul and Makeda3 specifically, here's where the problem lies.

Morghoul can chew through a whole unit of infantry by himself with the combination of overtake, double attacks from Fury, anatomical precision and sprint. the problem? overtake and sprint are both stopped by RFP. so you can kill one or two tough models max, ignoring their tough saves and then sit there with no sprint.

Makeda wants to use her feat and blood boon to get a bunch of extra fury, then use eliminator to move on and repeat the cycle, dancing through a formation. the problem? well the obvious one is that eliminator won't ignore tough, so you might not get your extra movement still. more importantly, she won't gain any fury from models killed while she has Take Down. and that also stops her free casting from Blood Boon.

#2. you can't put Beat Back on a caster. we have ONE caster with beat back natively  and that's pHexeris. the rest of them would love it, but seeing as Train Wreck only works on Beasts, they can't have it. Not sure why this one keeps showing up across the forums, but it does.

OK, back to the topic. Sorry, but those 2 things have been bugging me. I almost can't go into the Skorne forums anymore right now, I'll have to wait until the surge of new attempts to make old things work is done and everyone moves on to Convergence.

So, Lock and Load. I was really lucky during that crazy registration rush to get events on all 3 days. I managed to get in to Iron Guantlet, Who's the Boss, and 3 Commanders. I am still holding out hope on getting masters to replace Iron Guantlet, but we'll just have to see what happens there. I'm on the waiting list, but the event site has no way of tracking where you are on that list. I could be the next one on the list, or there could be another hundred people in front of me. So for now I need to just plan for Iron Guantlet.

Iron Guantlet is an interesting format. Standard Steamroller, 2 lists with sideboard, and Hardcore painting required. There are a few ways I could go with this. I could make 2 all-comers style lists like I would normally do. I could make some hard counter lists for two of the netlists I am worried the most about. or I could try to make some sort of Skew lists of my own.

All comers lists

This is the most likely course, mostly because this is what I normally do and has worked well for me in the past. As I've mentioned before, Zaal has become my go to caster for several reasons. he's a very fun caster to play, has a very different list build from a standard Skorne army, and has some very strong threats on several fronts. he does attrition, he can make his stuff break high armor, and he has some of the most sure assassinations I've ever used (seriously, very little survives a feated, last standed puppet mastered Kovaas).

The issue is finding a caster to pair with him. Luckily, zaal turns out to be a pretty decent Cryx matchup since he doesn't rely on a bunch of heavies and has some good soul denial when it comes up. I usually don't feel that I need an anti-Cryx second list when Zaal is my first. I want to use another list that handles a wide variety of cases, but I want one that does things differently than Zaal. that probably means beast-heavy, maybe even a Mammoth. the casters I am considering are Xerxis, Makeda of some variety (even Makeda3 seems like a fun second, but I have no table time so I can't choose her yet), or eHexeris. At this point I haven't ruled any out, but I am leaning towards one of the Makedas.

Counter Lists

The two big lists that are being bandied about online lately are eGaspy and Bart Galleon. eHaley is also a big concern, but one that I don't have a specific list build to fight. you just kind of have to weather through her and get lucky. honestly, if I bring a list to handle Galleon, I think it could work well on Haley.

If I go this route, my lists are pretty easy to build. pHexeris is my anti-Gaspy. Banes are about the best possible fodder for his feat, and the cherry on top is that EVERYTHING I kill during my feat turn is Removed From Play, which will heavily nueter Gaspy's feat if I can kill a full unit of banes and Tartarus on my feat turn. Against a standard eGaspy list with one unit of each flavor of Banes, the feat turn should reliably kill all 10 knights with only a few swordsmen, and a chunk of bane thralls (especially if I can use arced spells to snipe the banner). Gaspy has traditionally given me a ton of trouble, but I'm pretty confident that I can handle him with this list.

The second list would be Xerxis with the mammoth. The same list I played in my mammoth battle report against double Galleon. even with some huge misplays on my part, the Mammoth under Xerxis took down 2 Galleons and the caster. I really can't ask for a better matchup for that nasty list.

Of course, this method will be a risky one if I play someone (like Kieth from MoM) who is playing both of these lists. it'll be a coin flip. either I pull the list that gives me a great matchup or I don't. and of course, I could go the whole day without ever facing either list.

My Skew

I could also try bringing my own Skew lists to try to make it hard for my opponent to pick a list. Skorne doesn't Skew as well as a lot of armies, but we have some options. I would want to bring a infantry swarm and a beast list. Mordikaar is a shoe-in for the infantry skew, with 20+ tough infantry that keep coming back. He's a fun jam/attrition/irritation caster that has some fun assassination potential with essence blasts or void spirits. He will be better when Despoiler comes out, but that won't be in time.

The second list would need to be beast heavy. being Skorne, we have several choices here. Obviously pMorghoul with a titan herd of bronzeback, gladiator, tiberion and a cheaper heavy is a contender. or Makeda with Molik Karn and other heavies to give a potential assassination list as well. or (again) Xerxis with a Mammoth. You can see where I'm going here. Xerxis with a Mammoth is happening sometime this year, even if he doesn't come out in Lock and Load.

Other events

The other 2 events I registered for are a bit different. Both are 35 point lists, which is not what we tend to play here in Austin. I haven't played 35 nearly as heavily as 50, and I'm a little rusty. who's the boss is easy enough, since I'm not picking a caster. It's going to be a very self-sufficient package. if my caster draw happens to help, awesome. if not, I still have titans. it will likely be mostly beasts, a screening unit and Marketh/willbreaker/agonizer support. simple and effective.

3 Commanders will likely be Zaal and either Makeda2 or Morghoul1. I played a 35 point tournament last week with Makeda and Zaal and they performed very well. I went 3-0 and only missed first by 1 control point on the tie-breaker. I think they would do well in 3 commanders, but I may switch to something else. Zaal actually works surprisingly well at 35, which I wasn't expecting.

That wraps up my initial thoughts. I would be interested to hear what other think. Is it a good idea to build behind Zaal, or am I missing a power caster I should be focusing on? or from my regular opponents who read this blog, what lists or casters give you problems when you face my Skorne? Hopefully I'll nail down some choices in the next few weeks so I can start working on actually practice!


  1. Real interesting read. A lot of this is still over my head, but am enjoying soaking it all in. Thanks for the posts.

  2. Indeed. I'm new to skorne and your reports have been most helpful!

    May I ask why you never consider pMorghoul for beast heavy? He seems to be one of the most popular for that role at competitive events.

    1. pMorghoul is definitely good at running beasts. I still use him a good bit, but for whatever reason he doesn't sit on my personal top 3 or 4. Partly because I used him so much last year that I got a bit tired of using his fairly linear playstyle, and partly because people have more answers for beast heavy lately.

      Generally when I want to run a lot of beasts, I like using pMakeda for a bunch of yo-yo style attrition, or Xerxis for some higher armor and overkill on big targets. pMorghoul is still a very good choice though.

  3. It seems that with every new release cycle, Zaal gets better. He can handle anything, and that counts for more and more as the variety in builds we can come up against increases. I really need to start playing him more.

    1. Yeah, I don't know why Zaal doesn't get talked about more. I very rarely see list discussions or topics on him on the Skorne forums. He seems to fall through the cracks, even though I personally consider him top tier in Skorne. He's not as flashy as eHexeris and eMakeda though so he doesn't get a lot of press.

      I'm thinking I should do a more in-depth discussion on him in the near future, maybe after Lock and Load if he does well for me there. I haven't used him in a highly competitive event yet, so that will be a good test for him. I really didn't even pick him up until con season was almost over last year, I was too busy playing with eHexeris who had recently come out.