Hello fellow Warmachinists and Horders. My name is Martin and I have been honoured with the chance to share some of my thoughts regarding Skorne with you on this most formidable of blogs!
I have started playing Hordes towards the end of Mark I with a pause during the transformation process until the dust had settled and the Faction Books started appearing. Finally, last year, I started my travels to take part in bigger tournaments, mainly in the UK. I was fortunate enough to steer the Empire to victory at this year’s Smogcon as the overall Masters winner in addition to going undefeated in both qualifying tournaments, as well as the Irish Masters a month later. Unfortunately, the string of victories has been torn at the recent UK Masters courtesy of the Dragonfather. The battle reports can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.
Even before the Masters I had been wary of Cryx as I find them to be Skorne’s most difficult matchup and the tournament only confirmed my belief. I firmly believe now that in order to succeed in today’s meta a self-respecting Tyrant has to bring a list designed specifically to combat the undead. I’d argue that Skorne is lucky enough to being able to take on some of the more popular and hotly debated casters with several builds by virtue of our strong defensive tools and resilient beasts and medium infantry. This in turn allows us to tailor one specific list in a multilist format against Cryx.
In this series of articles I would like to introduce my lists with a bit of reasoning behind their composition and their preferred matchups and hopefully offer a list or two for the Cryx matchup in the end as well.
First however, I’d like to add a bit of gaming background and establish some kind of base to understand where I’m coming from with my experience and views. So take a comfortable seat, straighten your fleshhooks and pop a can of pickled eyeballs to fully enjoy the ramblings.
Wargaming and Me
It all started almost precisely 16 years ago with a box of Warhammer 40k 2nd edition seen at a schoolmate’s place. Now, all the hundreds upon hundreds of GW models are silently trying to catch every dust flake they can get their collective hands, claws and other appendages on. It has been a fun ride and I honestly do hope that one day the game will change it’s direction again and become fun and interesting. Back on topic, however, over all of those years I dare say I have developed an eye for distances and positioning on the tabletop which I find very important in Hordmachine and even more so in Skorne who are a quite synergistic faction. Apart from good placement of Bronzebacks for countercharge and Ancestral Guardians for defensive strikes it is important to manage your army’s advance one turn ahead to allow buffing solos, paingivers or your Warlock to activate and get where needed before the offensive elements of your force activate.
Having also played quite a lot of different CCGs, TCGs, LCGs even, over the years it might have helped me more easily remember all the little fineprint on the cards. This too is an important factor in the Hordmachine competitive environment. Obviously, it helps forming a counterstrategy when you know your opponent’s tricks but I have witnessed quite a lot of people not knowing their own army’s rules correctly, interpreting their rules either intentionally or unintentionally in a wrong way.
Although our playgroup at home is rather small, we fortunately have a pretty wellrounded army representation, with only Cryx missing at the moment. Obviously not all the guys are avid tournament goers, but there are several (we were 5 together at the Irish Masters for instance) and even the others strive to improve their game so we do have interesting games. Now after several large tournaments over on the Isles I have gained good experience against most of the factions.
At the risk of sounding heretical, I am of the opinion that the whole “meta” term is a bit overblown. Or maybe I just don’t understand it properly with English not being my first language and all! What I am trying to say here is that PP design their factions with a certain playstyle in mind and it’s not like suddenly someone will discover a revolutionary army build with shooty Gators to throw everyone off balance. There might be faction preferences and caster prevalence within those factions but when you intend to compete at a higher level you should have an answer for all the factions out there. Since Murphy’s laws are a thing and you have never given a thought to Retribution for instance, Ravyn just might come along and have some of her homies put a bolt through your caster’s eye. Finally, with the level of excellent coverage (on awesome blogs like the world famous Overload Online for instance) and overall attention WMH is currently getting it is possible to have a good overview of what is being played at the top tables.
SKEW AGAINST ME! Bwahahaha!
These Days in the Empire
I am certainly pretty biased but I’ll go ahead and start the flame war right here: I consider Skorne the best Hordes faction currently and once you solve the Cryx question for yourself you are looking at a top tier army despite what popular forum wisdom would make you believe. We can power through the Hordes matchups due to our Titans’ resilience (we have the only heavies with shields that can’t be crippled) backed up by everyone’s favourite clubbed baby seal on legs IN ADDITION to having the best medium based infantry in the entire game while making the 2nd best medium based infantry even a tad better. As if all this was not enough we can easily match and outmatch the speed of many enemy beasts who have nowhere near the staying power of the titans. Aaaaand we have the best Gargantuan in Tiberion. Oh, and people seem to be happy with the Mammoth too, I wouldn’t know however, since I don’t own him.
In Warmachine matchups it’s again the usual suspects, Titans, Krea, Agonizer, with the latter being admittedly, crazy good making 18/19 points of your opponent’s army just a glorified paperweight. The Krea makes shooting a non-issue for our heavies, where again I have the decency to admit her aura is quite unfair. But hey, you have eHaley swanboys, so suck it up and try to find a way to Telekinesis Tiberion.
Our regular infantry is solid and able to get their points back, while not being a huge loss when they get wiped out. I would say that their main advantage is their affordable points cost for really decent quality.
We used to have troubles with high def, but luckily the Gargossals game shift solved that for us to a certain degree and now we got the Incindiarii on top. Oh, and I hear the Mammoth has some pie plates to dish out as well.
This leaves us with Purification. Since I don’t own pMakeda and prefer Tyrant Vorkesh to Tyrant Xerxis I have never seen the big issue with the spell. Yes, pKreoss might succeed shooting a titan off the board once the Paralytic Aura gets stripped away, so this leaves us just with 2 of them and some angry Gators in his base eating his dudes. A bit more seriously though, I feel we have several casters not relying on defensive upkeeps and our base stats are solid enough to not completely fold under fire without the Krea’s Aura because that’s all that Purification is – a shooting buff that removes debuffs from his army as well. That’s why I consider Purification to really matter only in the Protectorate.
Krea’s are actually blind because they have to stare at titans’ asses in battle all the time.
Hopefully at least some of the above will make some sense and help understand the reasoning behind my builds, which I’ll present in the coming weeks. Thank you for getting this far and thank you for supporting Overload Online, which I hear is getting quite close to overtaking sliced bread as the best thing out there! Now let’s have the comments, death threats and ridicule!