Exigence Week: Skorne, according to Valrus

exigence

This week we’re taking a look at Exigence, faction by faction (though not in book order, because that would be just crazy). Today we welcome Lostie Valrus back to the blog with his insight on the Skorne model entries in Exigence. I’m pretty sure that his views are not influenced by the Paingiver Master Tormentor that just moved into his neighbourhood…

valrusavatarMy oh my… Exigence is really nice. At least for us Skorne players. I haven’t really looked at the other factions yet. I kinda feel like a paingiver in a beast market. So many choices and all of them great and deadly.

 I’ve constantly said the best thing I like about playing Skorne is variety. We get to play with so many different kinds of beasts I feel kind of spoiled. Exigence brings us a whole new class of beasts for the Skorne with a bunch of insect like beasts from the desert wastes – Scarab beetles on a monstrous scale will be descending on the Iron Kingdoms soon. I’m not going to get into the fluff because I haven’t read it all yet, but here’s a thorough rundown on the model offerings for Skorne.  

First, lets talk about the more mundane beast offerings is this book, the Aradus Sentinel and Aradus Soldier. Here we have a ranged and melee version of a new beast type. They share some common traits in Advanced deployment, Pathfinder, Steady, a healthy body and not so healthy mind and spirit, and the Carapace rule. Carapace protects them from most guns by granting 4 extra armour to put them at 23 against shooting. Basically unless your opponent is boosting damage rolls, they probably won’t scratch them. For extra fun, park a Krea behind them (to make Cygnar weep) [Approved! – Gday]. They also have a similar stat line with the stand out stat being a whopping speed of 3, making them I believe the slowest model in the game save for maybe some artillery pieces that tie them, but certainly the slowest warbeast. Advanced Deployment helps to balance that out, basically giving them a free run before things begin, so hopefully they won’t be lagging behind too much.

aradussoldier

The Aradus Soldier is the melee version and has reach on its claws which is nice, plus Pull to bring things into its high powered mandibles. With Paingiver support this guy shouldn’t have much trouble killing what you need him to. Still, you’re going to be ceding the first assault to your opponent a lot of the time. Personally I’m thinking the Warrior will be a good second wave beast that can mop up once your opponent sends in their own heavies. Skorne does have a few ways to speed him up with Rush, Mobility(more on that later) and Leash. Savagery will likely be the one to help him out the most, perhaps worth cycling it between the Aradus Soldier and Molik Karn. You are still starting at a deficit in speed though, meaning you’ll normally at best be matching everyone else while Circle and Legion trade in on their higher mobility. Snacking as an animus is good to see in Skorne, since we already some of the best beasts at taking a charge and then getting them healed up when they retaliate. Also a Remove From Play effect is always welcome these days.

The Aradus Sentinel is basically a turret, and one that likes to aim at Infantry. With Poison on its AOE 3, POW 13 gun it will reliably kill living infantry even with blast damage. Warbeasts and Warcasters will also want to watch out since it can put pretty big shots into them with the poison ability as well. Heck, even with blast damage its rolling a possible 4 dice for damage, and that’s enough to hurt a lot of stuff. Its melee ability is a pair of P+S 14 open fists which should be fine once you’ve weakened them up with the venom blaster. Swarm is a decent animus – inferior to the Krea’s for range defense, but can also stack nicely with it, and if you can’t squeeze a Krea into your list thats fine, I guess I can forgive you.

As far as interactions go I seriously want to bring a Krea with these guys. Even a Drake could be nice for Bushwhack to help keep the Sentinel out of melee. The Cyclops Raider helps out the Sentinel by extending the range of its gun. I could see these two hunkering down and blasting a lot of stuff together. A Bronzeback would be fun too. Having some nifty interactions between Beat Back and Pull on the Soldier. I push you an inch, I move an inch, I pull you two inches or so back to me. The gladiator’s Rush is fairly obvious to help them out with their speed problem. Bump from Tiberion would help them take that oncoming charge.

scarabs

So if the Aradus (Aradii?) are the mundane ones; what is the not-so-mundane warbeast? Scarab Packs, my friend. A new model type, these are a unit of warbeasts, which grants some neat advantages and disadvantages. First of all it lets you spread things out a bit, putting attacks where you need them. It also means they have a lot of wounds, with 40 wounds among the pack – an amazing thing for transfers. They won’t pick each other when frenzying, and since they all frenzy independently you can get up to four fully boosted attacks,  which ain’t a bad way to make th ebest of a bad situation. Sadly, though, we give up the ability for power attacks on them. Fair warning, although there’s 40 total wounds there is a lot there’s potential for serious backlash damage since you can transfer to only one at a time.

Specifically onto the Scarabs though, we see Advance Deployment again (Boy, Skorne got some nice AD stuff in this book). We also see steady again, which is always nice to have. They also have a ‘super gang’ ability, Swarming Scarabs, which gives them +1 for each Aradus warbeast or other model from the same unit engaging the target. That means they can gang up with each other AND their heavier cousins for some really nice bonuses to hit and damage. A couple Aradus Soldiers plus the full unit on a target give them a +5, making them MAT 10 POW 13’s…yikes! That’s not including Paingiver buffs plus ACTUAL GANG from Zaadesh( more on him later).

Heck with the buffs Skorne can throw out it wouldn’t be hard to see these guys hitting at POW 16 and upwards regularly. Oh, did I mention Paralysis on their attacks too? Yeah which means you only really need to hit with one of them and the rest will probably hit as well. You can also possibly use this to throw one away to keep an opposing heavy from getting into your lines.

Their animus allows the pack to Dig In which will help the relatively easy to hit and squishy(individually) pack survive to advance into melee. This is also a RNG 6 animus, meaning your warlock or say your Cyclops Shaman can use it to make them Dig In after they run.

zaadesh

So thats the beasts, hopefully you’re still with me. On to Tyrant Zaadesh! He is Skornes new lesser warlock who’s been out for a while and spoiled in No Quarter so I won’t talk too long about him. I just want to say, were the Scarab Pack built for this guy? He also loves the Aradus beasts. Both choices are great for taking a hit for Zaadesh using Protective Battlegroup, and Tag Team just makes the Scarabs really friggin’ good. With Fury 4 Perdition is not so good, but could be used in a pinch to get your Aradus Soldier moving. You can find the model overview in the LH archives here.

keltarii

One more item before the main event – the new Praetorian Keltarii unit. At 5 and 8 in points cost they compete with Nihilators and Immortals, mainly Nihilators. How do they compare? Both have reach, both have SPD 6, both have DEF 13, and thats where the similarities end. The Keltarii will fit into a lot more theme forces, with their being Praetorians. They are also harder to kill with shooting due to Blade Barrier, making them DEF 15 against ranged attacks (bonuses vs. ranged seems to be a trend for Skorne in this book). These guys are hoping to avoid being hit where the Nihilators will just try to tough it out. They have Combined Melee, always nice. They have Parry… thats kind of new, and fun. They have Reform… ah now I see. They can charge in, kill some dudes and then back away out of range with no consequences, possibly clearing the way for a second wave. That is really neat. I think I’m going to like these guys. The models also look fantastic, but maybe I’m just a sucker for double bladed staves.

xerxis2

The main event! Xerxis! On A Rhino! Eh, I mean Xerxis, Fury of Halaak. Holy crud does he look badass. He really needed to bring a flag, so he just chains one mace to the other and uses them as a flail!? Thats awesome. It has a different name than his previous version, but we all know what really happened.

Besides being a very pretty model he’s got a lot going for him. Battle Engine, Cavalry, a good feat, some auto knockdown, good P+S, a Pitch special attack, a high ARM value of 19, a warbeast bond and a P+S 17 charge attack. Plus some spells too! Bonus! Everything on his card says “get me into melee with something”, and he will wreck a lot of stuff once he gets there. Probably his favourite warbeasts to bond are going to be Tiberion (thanks to special issue) and possibly a Cannoneer for the extra protection in melee. Krea is a maybe, it is a very useful animus for sure. Razorworm could be amusing, you could get a lot of stuff into B2B with him. The Mammoth isn’t a bad choice for a free counterblast each turn on either it or Xerxis himself.

His spell list is short but sweet. Ignite is a good melee buff replacing Fury, never liked the -1 DEF Fury gave so I’m happy. Stranglehold is a good spell that can help keep Xerxis safe, but on a Fury 5 Warlock it’s hard to use since you’ll often need to boost hit and damage rolls to make it effective. Paralysis from, say, a Krea (Can you tell I like Kreas?) makes things much easier to hit. Mobility, though, is the real nice one on his spell list, complete opposite of his old Inhospitable Ground, Xerxis is clearly tired of holding the line. +2 SPD and Pathfinder for your battlegroup means you’re not reliant on the Gladiator for a warbeast speed buff anymore, although it stacks nicely with it. It also goes much further than trying to put out multiple rush animi in a turn. Without Xerxis being reliant on having a Gladiator around for that much needed speed and pathfinder buff, you could try… double Bronzeback maybe? It could also be amusing to take a bunch of Cyclops for some fun threat ranges.

But wait, isn’t his small Control Range his biggest weakness? All these fast beasts will run outside it!?!? Well, let’s look at the feat. For one round all models are in Xerxis control range. Thats the actual wording. He kind of beats Harby for a turn! This means you can force your beasts anywhere, heal your beasts anywhere and they will all be in range for Mobility. But wait, there’s more! Friendly Skorne models get to roll an extra die and then choose a die to drop on attack and damage rolls. As someone who’s played a lot of Vlad with Signs & Portents, its bonkers how much that can improve your rolls. And just to be clear, it affects everyone in your army (in his control range, hehehe). Yes, please, and thank you.

His theme force is all about the huge bases, with a discount on huge bases. Limiting you to cavalry units, paingivers, tyrants and battle engines, there won’t be much in his theme smaller than a large base. The redeployment at Tier 2 helps mitigate the predeployment requirements,and Tier 3 is a no brainer to hit – take Tiberion, with a small bonus of +1 to your starting roll. Tier 4 gives your Animantaraxes a full complement of Rage tokens start with, which could see some more of the very maligned Skorne Battle Engine hitting the table.

Aaaaand thats it! Skorne got some really neat toys in this book. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the new stuff on the table, and I think we will see all of it in some capacity. Its nice to see Skorne getting some real synergy stuff in this book – It all looks like it will work together nicely. Exigence adds some new variety to Skorne, which I always love to get. Big thanks to Privateer for another great book!