I’ve been playing Morghoul’s theme list, Big Game Hunters, for about a month now, and it’s been something of a mixed bag.
On the one hand, the list is excellent at dealing with other, similar lists – lists with low to moderate model/activation counts that like to close the distance. When the Arcuarii hit you, you damn well stay hit – same with the Titan, and even the Cyclopes pack enough wallop to clear a charge lane or kill an annoying solo that’s wandering around in a single hit. The Beast Handlers remove my problems with the previous Abuse-happy occasionally-neutering-my-own-beasts problem, and I’m starting to learn more about how Rush works in order to avoid having to Abuse quite so often in the early game. Russ had the decency to teach me a few tricks with overlapping the two Arcuarii units into three ranks, so that I might lose one from each unit when engaging, but the others would survive to counter-attack with – unfortunately, that’s the sort of trick that I find myself gimping when moving the models and accidentally separating them out again. I’ll get there with a little practice.
Also, it drags things, and Drag is as hilarious as ever, especially since the respectable charge range of the Arcuarii means they can charge something at the edge of a screening unit on one turn, and then line up for a hail mary shot along that edge to something that’s hiding behind it on the next. Severius is still reeling from the harpoon to the face…
On the other hand, yesterday’s games brought the list to two things that totally unstick it:
- a list with large numbers of infantry which not only out-threat it, but have defences against being picked off one by one (rassafrassin’ Russ rassafrassin’ Trollbloods rassafrassin’ Fennblades-with-Vengeance-and-Hero’s-Tragedy). Skorne infantry will never have the same level of buff-a-go-go insanity that the Trollbloods do, but they can come close with more support pieces, and selecting a unit with a UA that gives it some tricks rather than something self-sufficient like the Arcuarii, who are good at battering single models but can’t shift a horde worth a damn. The warbeasts are similarly limited – while I missed out on at least one killer Trample opportunity in an earlier test game, running up against Trollbloods teaches you that you can’t rely on Trample to clear out the chaff.
- land-grab scenarios, where it simply doesn’t have the model count to establish control of an area through wide footprints and counter-threat abilities like Vengeance. Considering that I got into Skorne for the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ style, this is a bit galling.
- actually, there’s a third thing, which came up a couple of weeks ago; gunlines. The Arcuarii are tough but they’re not THAT tough, and a few good CRAs to the face from a full unit of small based pew-pew merchants will drop them like flies. Having to waddle all the way across the board and not being able to do anything until you’re within ten inches is only fun when someone didn’t bring Long Gunners and isn’t riddling you with twenty bullets a turn from eighteen inches away.
What I have is a halfway decent assassination list, which could do especially well for itself in Hardcore play where opponents are likely to be carefully managing the number of activations they include and consequently either under-using big units or avoiding them altogether. It could do well at the ‘run over the board and take that circle in the enemy’s half’ scenarios as well, largely due to the deceptive speed of Morghoul and his battlegroup, and the advance deployment that Tiering up makes available to the Arcuarii.
It ain’t so good for the rest of Steamroller, though, where land-grabs are the order of the day and you need the numbers to occupy wider areas and the resilience (or disposability) to hold them. What I could do with is a second list… oh, wait, it’s Hordes, of course I can have a second list. Ho hee.
Hexeris has long been my choice of secondary warlock; in fact, I’ve owned him since before I started playing Skorne at all. Hexeris brings the beautiful Vengeance to the table, and also has the ability to channel his competent offensive spells through a warbeast of my choosing with Spell Slave. His feat allows me to capitalise on what kills can be mustered by the Arcuarii by turning their victims around and sending them into the enemy lines to beat up their friends, and if the worst comes to the worst, he can get stuck into a warbeast himself and batter it about. It might even be possible to run him without Beast Handlers, since he can neatly prevent one of his beasts from ever frenzying.
In an ideal world, my second list would shamelessly imitate Russ by including a cheap, scary, large infantry unit that can be buffed to buggery, spread out, and Vengeanced so that it’s not an attractive prospect to clear out of a scenario control zone. It’s tempting to stick with multiple wounders and go for Gatormen, who are better at crowd control than the Arcuarii are, and can be quite scary with the Paingiver Task Master following them around and Hexeris’ Death March on them (Vengeance plus Tough on the way in, +2 MAT and damage when they get there?), but their tabletop footprint might be too small to deal with a full-on horde, and some small-basers with a tricky UA might be the better way to go.
In the real world, I haven’t even painted the Cataphracts yet, so running out and buying lots of new toys is probably less than sensible. This leaves me trying to work out a decent Hexeris list with what I own, and the collection keeps coming up one or two points short. Annoyingly, that’s not quite enough for either an Ancestral Guardian or Aptimus Marketh, both of whom could capitalise on the inevitable Cataphract deaths. Dropping a Cyclops would free up the points for both – two Cyclops Savages feels a bit redundant beyond the battlebox, and it would provide more models on the board, especially for scenarios – but still leave that odd point left over.
Last two points in a Skorne list, limited budget for rearrangments, and no no-brainers like the Bloat Thrall (list needs guns, this gun costs two points and should hit something, job done). A Void Spirit’s tempting; the test games yesterday reminded me how annoying Incorporeal stuff can be in Hordes, but would it have long-term value or just be plugging the gap in a 25 point list and never hitting the table later? Are Bone Grinders the answer, to slap a bit more range on Hexeris’ offensive spells and make them worth a go at casting?
I’ll have to have a look at the Minions book when I can, see if there’s anything good in there. I do plan on integrating Minions more fully into my Skorne than I have Mercenaries into my Cryx, since the Skorne can actually take a decent range of ‘associates’ and have a solo to support them. In the meantime, it’s eyes on the Cryx for the time being – it’ll be less work to expand the larger collection into semi-viability in time to be a ringer for February’s tournament.