Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking Ahead: Despoiler

I don't know if I'm just not looking in the right places or what, but I have not seen a whole lot of hype or discussion on Despoiler. I myself have not looked at him a whole lot since his rules were released, mostly because there were just so many things to look at in that book, and all of them came out way before Despoiler. There wasn't much urgency to test him when we didn't even have a sculpt for him yet, just the art in the book and one pencil sketch from PP online.

We still don't have a release date for him, but he has finally been spotted! like the Incindiarii last year, one of the PP staffers snuck in a painted Despoiler into Warmachine Weekend where some pictures were snapped of him. the complete thread I am stealing this from can be found here

And some pictures for anyone who doesn't want to sift through the thread for the multiple views of the model.

So now that there is a model in existence, theoretically we should see Despoiler coming out sometime in the relatively near future right? maybe. we know for sure he won't be until at least March, since the releases for the months up to that point are known now. I would guess not until April or May. Still, it's coming and with nothing else on deck to be released for Skorne, it may be time to start trying him out.

But first let's talk about that model. I'll admit to being a bit disappointed with the way it looks. the concept art all looked so sweet, so much potential for an awesome model. Somehow it got lost a bit in translation to a physical model. Overall it's not terrible. I like the tail a lot, and the armor is standard Skorne, which means it's probably good. I actually like the lanterns, even though some are complaining about that. the head is a little silly looking to me. it's too long and skinny, it looks a bit cartoonish. and the stone in the forehead looks like a silly horn instead of a piece of soulstone.

The real issue I have with the model is the hands... those hands. I'm not even really sure what's wrong with them. they just look off. usually Titan and Rhinodon hands are closed in fists that probably make them look a bit cleaner to me, there's something really odd looking about those three fingers sticking out and how spread out they are. it's like when you take a sketching class and work on a picture of someone's hands and they just look wrong when you're done. I don't know how one would fix them on the model. maybe some heating and bending would help the pose a bit. Maybe swapping the whole fists with the ones from the normal Rhinodon. Or I might get really daring with an idea I just had and have him holding half of a warrior in each hand with some black cotton ball smoke connecting the two. maybe that's how void spirits are made. I don't know, we'll see. I'll have to look at the model first.

There's plenty of comments in the linked thread about the model itself. It's rare to see so many people complaining about the sculpt of a model before it's even released. Especially for Skorne, as I think most of our stuff looks very good, and if you like one Skorne you like them all. I won't go into any more on the model itself, let's talk usefulness.

This guy is Mordikaar's little buddy. I think they did a good job of making a character beast that actually works well with his master in the fluff. Something more like Molik:Makeda than Tiberion:Xerxis (I've only run tibbers with Xerxis a couple of times). Everything on his card makes Mordikaar a happy happy old man. Free upkeep? you don't have to use one of your hallow souls to keep hallow going, and you don't have to take Marketh just for some upkeep efficiency. free void spirits? normally good, but with Mordikaar it's really good. more on this in a minute. the animus making magic cost more is helpful for the slow grind attrition that Mordikaar wants to play, keeping enemy magic from swinging the balance. corner-case but still good. and as icing on the cake, he has dark shroud when taken with Mordikaar, helping him (and a Mordikaar army in general) with their low damage output.

All that is pretty sweet. in a mordikaar army, there is little question in my mind that he is worth 10 points any day. Usefulness with anyone else? I guess we'll see, but I'm not super hopeful. of course, take all of this with a grain more salt than you would normally take what I say since I have yet to proxy him on the table (that's coming as soon as our Journeyman League is over). I know there are some casters that might like him, so let's look at some options.

1. Morghoul - Morghoul is a good armor cracker, and can help Despoiler not hit like a light warbeast. he's always strapped for Fury with his base of 5, and doesn't want to take Marketh from other casters just for an extra abuse and free admonition upkeep. Despoiler could help a lot here. I also tend to drop Morghoul vs Hordes more than Warmachine, making free void spirit missiles a nice addition. but maybe not enough for 10 points when I could be taking a Bronzeback or Tiberion.

2. Xerxis - I really don't agree that Xerxis needs Marketh. Despoiler giving the free upkeep is enough to let Xerxis keep out both upkeeps, cast Inhospitable Ground every turn and still camp 1. Xerxis is one of the few times you might get Despoiler to wreck a heavy with fury and feat, but you can say that about most lights. void spirits under feat could be pretty special. enemy casters are rarely going to be 10" away from the brick, limiting the use of the animus. again, maybe not worth the extra points.

3. Naaresh - rounding out the casters that get over Despoiler's lack of umph, let's talk about Naaresh. free upkeeps are somewhat wasted on a caster that has his own built-in free upkeeps, but i guess might be useful if you've already healed with the feat and don't want to take damage to keep IF going. the reason people keep bringing p this combo is the hilarious fun it will be the one single time you get a caster in both Lamentation and Arcane supression at the same time, making it almost impossible to cast spells within 10". it's a gimmik, I don't think it will work on a real table. if Naaresh is 10" away from the enemy caster with Lementation up instead of iron flesh he's likely not going to survive the turn. Or eEiryss aims and removes the whole thing on way less than average dice. there's very little synergy other than that.

4. any caster with one good upkeep spell. I think Despoiler has limited uses in other lists, possibly with casters like Hexeris2 that have one good upkeep they want out and don't really need Marketh. it could bring some efficiency and free up Marketh for Makeda/Zaal/etc. Actually, Zaal might be fun with Despoiler too, if for nothing else than the fun of last standed void spirit bombs once per turn. anyways, if you like the free void spirits and lamentation-like effect he might be worth taking in one of your lists to free up Marketh. I'll try him with a few casters, but his home will really be with Mordikaar.

With Mordikaar, I have a fun little list in mind I want to post here before i put it out in the wild. it's a tier list, which I am somehow always drawn to, and will try even if they suck. The loss of paingivers hurts, but I think this could still be possible if taken against armies that don't have a ton of armor. that's what a second list is for (Mak3 feels like a great pair for this list). So here it is, Mordikaar Tier 4:

Mordikaar +5
* Archidon
* Krea
* Gladiator
* Despoiler
* Reptile Hound
2X Feralgeist
3X Void Spirit
max Nihilators
max Swordsmen + UA

models gain incorporeal for your first turn (usually meh, basically gives pathfinder for everyone to get out of a cluttered deployment)
free void spirit ignoring FA (only way to start with more than 2!)
solos with incorporeal gain advance deployment (feralgeists now contesting your flags even faster)
2" of deployment (looks like you're about to get jammed)

OK, maybe not a tournament-style list. but wow does it look fun. I'm going to try to play this list 10 times or so with a proxied Despoiler in January and we'll see how it goes. It's not a complicated list by any stretch. it has the standard Mordikaar one-two combo of swordsmen for hallow and Nihilators for revive. at has the archidon for some ghost walk fun, and it has despoiler. but of course the main attraction and the only real reason you would run a list this silly is the ghosts. the list is worthless against circle or any army with access to craploads of magical weapons. but if you run it against that list with little to no magic, those feralgeist can just hang out in a zone all day. You could even put banishing ward on one of your many ghosts just to make it that much harder to get rid of, requiring actual magical weapons.

Void Spirits are jus so good with Mordikaar. the feat makes it hard to get rid of them before they do what they do, mordikaar makes them hit much better with his void lord ability, and against living models they hit like trucks and leave behind damaging cloud effects. what more could you ask for? one extra void spirit for free? and then a free void spirit a turn from despoiler? you thought nihilators with recursion were good, lets try void spirits that never seem to go away... maybe I'm over-hyping this idea, but the potential of having so many void spirits over the course of the game makes me really happy. it won't always work, but when it does it will be worth it.

two final thoughts on despoiler in this particular list. first, the archidon works well with him on paper. give him sprint, charge in to some infantry, kill one to make a void spirit, kill one more to trigger sprint, and get out of harm's way. then fill the gap with tough trooper models. second, I think i finally found a reason why feralgeists might be worth 1 point. if you kill despoiler, a feralgeist could take him over. you lose out on his animus and he can't be forced anymore, but you keep the free upkeep and the free void spirits. He doesn't even have to be the one to kill the enemy model, it just has to be in 2" of him. won't last long with only 3 boxes, but if it gets me one more void spirit it was worth it.

I'll run this list a few times and report back later. it will be a while with the journeyman league and then Christmas. in the meantime, if you have some table time with the Despoiler I would love to hear your thoughts on how he works in practice. any casters other than Mordikaar you might consider him with?

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