As well as running a friendly, well-stocked brick-and-mortar and online shop (for all your guilt management needs), the good people at Dark Sphere Games have a rather spiffy gaming space that’s half an hour’s walk from my place and draws a decent Warmahordes crowd of a Monday night. It’d be churlish of me not to give it a go, really, and so I’ve popped up and been rocking the Skorne for a couple of games. One of these was my first with the good Lord Tyrant Hexeris since, umm, actually since I acquired him two and a half years ago, and it proved to be a strange experience after Morghoul.
Given that I own two Cataphract units and have an urgent desire to use them, I couldn’t really pass up running Hexeris’ Theme Force, which has a pretty spiffy bonus at Tier One; starting with his three upkeep spells already cast. Given that these afford you a frenzy-proof beast with an arc node, Vengeance and a MAT buff for the Cataphracts who are the Tier’s heavy hitters, and a potentially amusing spell deterrent on an up-front warlock, it seems foolish not to.
At 25 points you can basically afford one good target for Death March and one good target for Soul Slave, plus support pieces, so that’s what I went for:
Faction: Hexeris – Kingdom of Shadow
Lord Tyrant Hexeris (*6pts)
* Cyclops Brute (5pts)
* Cyclops Savage (5pts)
* Titan Gladiator (8pts)
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 5 Grunts) (9pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Hexeris seems to have a really weird fury economy that’s not the easiest to figure out. He wants to be leaching a lot, because he’ll be upkeeping three spells more or less every turn, but he has a device for running beasts hot; he has an arc node, but not always masses to do with it if he’s paying for his upkeeps and maintaining a fury base for his transfers. I’m thinking Aptimus Marketh’s in the Theme Force for a reason; we want to be taking some casualties to make Death March go, and being able to trade those for two fury-free upkeeps (recasting Death March for free with Spell Slave, and upkeeping one of the others with a soul token) can’t hurt.
In my first few turns with him I regularly found myself somewhat short of fury within his activation, and no real idea of what he’d be doing other than wandering upfield, checking ranges with a Soulfire or casting Rush on beasts that wanted their own fury for hitting things. I think I used the node all of once; Soul Slave just ticked on the Gladiator to keep it honest and give me the option if I needed it. I also came to miss something I’d never actually played with – the infinite control area formerly awarded by Soul Slave. I almost think I’d rather have that than the node, but maybe I’ve been spoiled by Cryx and maybe I’d need the node more against things that aren’t Retribution.
That said, the game was won and lost with Hexeris in melee, and he’s no slouch there, not with Reach, a decent weapon and seven fury to sink into hitting things with if he wants it. He seems to be that weird thing I’ve been looking for for a while; a caster who can sling spells, but is built to do so on the way into close range, rather than lurking at the back and relying on arc nodes to get the job done, a way I tended to end up using him with Asphyxious.
I’m very taken with his feat turn, which did a fine job of clearing some chaff, especially with Paingiver units around to plink single wound models and reliably start them off on killing each other. I wonder if it’d present enough of a hard counter to infantry-heavy opposition for me to get by without too much chaff of my own, and instead rely on triggering Dark Dominion with a whole mess of big slams and tramples from beasties?
Only one way to find out – more games with Hexeris. They’ll be the order of the day until the Dark Sphere mini-league starts in June, at which point I’ll be switching to Mercenaries – it’s a paint-as-you-play job and the Mercs are mostly primed. Seems like a match made in Urcaen to me.
What’s that? Cryx? Naa, don’t miss ’em. Should have done this years ago.