I haven’t been Weak. Not yet. Allow me to explain, if explain I can, what has been going through the old brainbox for the last week or so.
It started innocently enough, with the accidental assembling a trio of brave souls ready to face the worst that the IKRPG could throw at them and give me a chance to join the Century of the Fruitbat and use that Roll20 whatchamacallit. One of the players has an Enthusiasm regarding Skorne, which guided me in the direction of Iron Kingdoms Unleashed and the Skorne Empire rulebook. That brought something to mind – the half-remembered promise that this year (by which I mean next year, obviously) would be the year I finally ran some IKRPG tables at SmogCon. That brought to mind the chilling truth: to run the IKRPG successfully, with actual people, one conventionally requires miniatures. (You can run it as a conventional RPG, but it’s so obviously configured as a way to use your Warmachine and Hordes miniatures that it loses much of its charm if you do.)
Then there was a moment of horrible synchronicity, because this git happens to be what’s goin’ on in terms of Skorne releases at the moment:
Looks smashing, doesn’t he? This sort of chinked off my having seen the Skorne Army in a Box down at Firestorm a while back, and the creeping certainty that I’d like to run a Skorne-themed adventure at SmogCon, and that led to me looking at the other SmogCon events.
Hardcore. That’s interesting. I always quite liked Hardcore, and then I sort of had a shower thought about my old “as few actors as possible” policy in Hardcore events, induced by having seen the single circulating image of the Desert Hydra Gargantuan. Two Gargantuans (one of each) and Archdomina Makeda. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? One of them gets hurried up the field under Savagery while the other tanks under Defender’s Ward. It doesn’t work as well as I thought it does, because Savagery doesn’t work the way I remember it working, but it did make me giggle in my secret heart and I think I’d quite like to play with a Gargantuan and see how it gets killed when I’m the one using it.
On that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” note, I’ve been poking around Battle College and the forums, just to see what’s hot and what’s not these days. Besides the traditional Molik Karn delivery system, I’m seeing a semi-standard ranged support bloc (the Cyclops Raider, Mortitheurge Willbreaker, Extoller Soulward and a couple of warbeasts with good guns, like the Aradus Sentinel), and two infantry units edging out most of the competition: Nihilators and Incendiarii, both because they muller enemy infantry by the double handful. I quite like the look of the Praetorian Keltarii (little Hexerises with Parry!) and the Scarab Pack (that’s a lot of wounds to have damage transferred into, and some fun interactions based on their being a unit of warbeasts). The Siege Animantarax has received an erratum that makes it scarily shooty, although if we’re talking about guns I still have a sneaky soft spot for Venator Reivers.
In terms of casters, I used to be all right with Master Tormentor Morghoul back in the day, I like the look of Master Ascetic Naaresh (not a one-trick pony, but with a fun set of gimmicks to do with taking and healing damage and a lot of mobility), Lord Arbiter Hexeris (ranged support caster with an arc node; sound like anything I used to play?); any of the Makedas, or either of the Zaals.
Zaal actually makes me think, wonder if my old theorymachine Supreme Aptimus list might be worth a practical shot. I might go for the Scarab Pack over the Brute (many more wounds to transfer damage into) or a more aggressive/shooty beast like the Aradus Sentinel, but the goal remains the same; all the Ancestral Guardians I can carry, transferring damage onto well-placed ones or using Last Stand on them to bring out the Kovaas, and having swarms of infantry to generate souls. I’d probably not go for the field artillery (not sure what I was thinking there, may have been “gosh, aren’t I contrary!”) this time out, maybe small units of Venators or Keltarii instead. And maybe that Gatorman minion unit that collects corpses and turns them into zombie frogs.
Knowing where to start is a bit bewildering though. When I start thinking about armies, the urge is to go back to basics; one man, one starter box, and maybe look around for a Journeyman league, ’cause that structures the list-making experience around a defined point of entry, rather than me having to make my mind up. And of course it has to make a playable and amusing IKRPG scenario too. And there is the sad truth of Skorne and all things related thereto: painting that armour kills me and I need to find a way of doing it outside-in, letting the filigree paint itself during the early prime-and-ink stages of my process and focusing my attentions on stuff that isn’t so fiddly that it’s unsustainable in the long run. At the moment I’m thinking some sort of hide armour (similar style to my SAGA figures actually) and putting a lot of effort into painting the skin (something similar to my old Epic Skarre might work). That’s why it’s all been thinking so far instead of doing. The brain needs to settle and the initial fizz and fiddling subside before I go out and just buy everything.