Archive for the ‘Hordes Army Lists’ Category

Lylylth, Shadow of Everblight Analysis

In MkII Lylyth2 was one of the feared warlocks for being able to bring the assassination.  Incredibly popular with most Legion players, a lot of the player base found her polarizing, and with good reason.  Multiple Ravagores, Bolt Throwers, Zuriel and a Naga ended up being a common core build and having a snipe feat with the ability to ignore +DEF and +ARM spells meant not much survived.  If you did survive however the list quickly crumpled.  If you also ignored stealth on her battlegroup the frailty of the Battlegroup became apparent, but you still needed to survive the feat.  So with all of her changes in the new edition, how has she fared?


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Exigence New Tiers: Trollbloods

The second half of the roundup on Exigence involves the 6 Theme Forces featured in the book for the new warlocks: Avalanche, Wold War, Footsteps of Giants, Death’s Wings, Voodoo Dolls, and Curtain Call.  The idea of a Theme Force gives you bonuses for running armies a certain way, at an opportunity cost of other models.  So lets see what we’re looking at, starting with Trolls and going down the line for each one. Read more »

Making Cassius Work

Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen of 3++!  I know you are all so fascinated by 6th edition right now (and I was too, initially) but the Steam-Powered Gamer is here to distract you with a belated Warmachine/Hordes article.  Today’s topic?  Cassius the Oathkeeper.  This guy is probably one of the most maligned of Circle’s warlocks and with the recent releases that came from Hordes: Domination, Cassius actually had a little bit of a boost to his effectiveness.  Before we begin, I do have to say that Cassius is not a very popular warlock because he has some glaring weaknesses and is the “rock” in a meta full of “paper”, and that doesn’t help his popularity much.  The fact that he also has a bit of “Skornergy” (see my Warmachine/Hordes Glossary for the definition) with one of his spells and one of his most popular abilities doesn’t help either.  That said, let’s try and find a way to make this guy work by first taking a look at his special rules, since they’ll inform the rest of your list and decisions.

The Strengths

First, let’s understand what makes Cassius so different: Wurmwood.  So as the story goes, the actual ‘warlock’ is technically Wurmwood, and Cassius is just its pawn to do its bidding.  On the table, however, you treat Cassius like the warlock, just for simplicity sake.  That means that any damage suffered by Wurmwood gets “transferred” to Cassius.  This does not work like your usual transfer mechanic, just think of both models sharing the same damage pool (meaning you can still transfer the damage to a warbeast).  This does mean, however, that your opponent will have an easier time killing you off, since they have two targets – one of which has a large base.  This means it’s imperative that you keep Wurmwood safe.  Fortunately, Wurmwood has Prowl to help keep it relatively safe from shooting attacks and it gains +1 ARM for each soul it collects (max: 5 souls), but it’s still automatically hit in melee and that can be a problem if you’re not a careful player.

There are some perks to having Wurmwood, however.  First, Cassius has an ability called Black Roots which lets him ignore the ‘in-melee’ penalty when casting spells within 10″ of Wurmwood.  This doesn’t mean that you should be getting that close to your opponent, but just that you can get yourself out of a sticky situation if you need to.  Cassius can also advance through models and obstructions if they’re inside a forest (useful during feat turn) as well as giving you a much more respectable DEF 16 in melee while in a forest.  Again, this does not mean you’re unstoppable, but it’s helpful.  Oddly enough, you don’t ignore Concealment inside a forest (Hunter would have made Cassius awesome!) so your spells will need to be used carefully.

Cassius has a pretty awesome spell list considering its size.  One of the challenges of playing with Cassius is deciding which spells you want to cast, since it’s doubtful that you’ll have the fury to cast all of the awesome spells you really want to use.  The spell that everyone should notice first is Hellmouth – the infamous spell also found in Cryx.  What makes this spell so powerful is that it’s a super-AOE spell because when you score a direct hit, models within 3″ of the model hit immediately get pushed 3″ towards the model directly hit, then the 3″ AOE is placed and everyone gets hit with a POW 12.  It’s perfect for removing infantry and clearing out charge lanes, but this is also where “Skornergy” comes in: models boxed are removed from play.  That means no soul tokens for Wurmwood.  The other downside to this spell is that it’s very expensive and that both means that Cassius won’t be casting it often and also that it can’t be used via Geomancy.  We’ll get back to that later, though.

The other spells that Cassius has are pretty fantastic as well.  Stranglehold seems uninspiring at first, but it can be useful when Geomancied by a Woldwarden to completely shut down a target if they’ve been knocked-down, or making your opponent invest more resources into a model that’s immune to knock-down (since they’ll still have to forfeit their movement or action with this spell).  Next, we have Curse of Shadows which is another solid spell when used via Geomancy by a Woldwarden since it effectively makes them P+S 17, let alone allowing your models to move completely through the targeted model/unit and prevents them from making free strikes.  You’ll ideally want a unit with a relatively high SPD to charge clean through this unit or can get into some good positions to take full advantage of this spell.  You’ll also be able to cycle this spell, thanks to Geomancy to give you a solid positioning advantage.  The last spell, Unseen Path, allows you to teleport Wurmwood.  While Unseen Path allows you to reposition yourself, you’ll want to find an ideal position early so you can save the fury for your other spells.

So now that we have some context, let’s look at Cassius’ feat.  Within 10″ of Wurmwood instantly turns into a forest and models which are knocked-down in the forest take an automatic point of damage.  The auto-point is not something you’ll have an easy time of spamming, but it’s nice for enemy models who pass their Tough rolls (well, those who aren’t immune to knock-down anyway).  This means that Wurmwood will have Stealth on feat turn, Cassius will have DEF 16 in melee, he can ignore the in-melee penalty inside the forest with his spells, and he can advance through models and obstacles (but can still get free-struck).  Most importantly, against a lot of lists out there, this 21″ diameter forest will block huge chunks of LOS and slow their movement unless they have Pathfinder.  There are some serious weaknesses to this feat, but we’ll discuss those at the end of the article.

The List

So what are we going to look for when building a list for Cassius?  Well we want models which will both take advantage of his feat and not be hindered by it.  Unfortunately, that means that non-Pathfinder models will either need to be used cleverly (see: activated before Cassius) or avoided completely.  We also want models which can protect Cassius (specifically: Wurmwood) from ranged attacks that can ignore Stealth.  Fortunately, most of those are low-POW attacks but we still need something which will help keep you safe.  You could also benefit from models which can generate forests throughout the game so you don’t have to rely on your one feat turn to keep yourself safe or use your tricks.  You’ll also want ways of casting as many of your spells as possible or extending your spell range while keeping Cassius and Wurmwood as far back as possible until you really need them.  Here’s what I came up with:

I know this is what you’re thinking…

Cassius (+6)
– Woldwatcher (5)
– Woldguardian (9)
– Woldwarden (9)
Tharn Ravagers (full, 9)
– Chieftain (2)
Tharn White Mane (3)
Shifting Stones (2)
Gallows Groves (1)
Gallows Groves (1)

Now, I’ve received a lot of criticism for a list like this in the past so let me first preface by saying: making a list for Cassius at 35 points is very difficult.  We’ll revisit the weaknesses shortly (I promise!), but for now let’s look at what this is capable of.  First, the oft-maligned Woldwatcher will be handy for two reasons: Shield Guard and Fertilizer.  While Cassius also has Fertilizer on his melee weapon, you don’t want to get that close to use it most often.  On the Woldwatcher, however, he can use it at range or melee to kill a model and generate a forest.  This is good for keeping your models safer, but you can’t really rely on it too much.  We run into some “Skornery” issues again where Fertilizer means no souls, but seeing as you can only absorb 5 souls anyway, it might not be a problem.  The main reason for taking the Woldwatcher, though, is for Shield Guard to absorb a ranged attack on Wurmwood, should it get shot at.

While most will say that the Woldguardian is not a good choice for Cassius, I actually like him for two reasons.  First, if you’re careful, you can keep Wurmwood safe from ranged threat (via the Woldwatcher) and using the Guardian’s animus on Cassius can keep him safe too, so your opponent can’t really shoot either of them, and that’s a good place to be in.  Additionally, the Woldguardian is a heavy hitter and is even better with Curse of Shadows – hitting an effective P+S 19.  Additionally, the Woldguardian has auto-knockdown which can add some extra damage during the feat turn.  It’s not much, but sometimes you just need 2 or 3 more points and you’ll be glad you have it!  Lastly, you’ll notice that this list lacks a bit of fury and you can feel free to load up the Woldguardian and you can still use it as a transfer target – very handy!

The Woldwarden is nearly an auto-include with Cassius and you could make an argument for dropping the Woldguardian completely for two of these guys.  With the ability to Geomancy Curse of Shadows or Stranglehold or generate a forest with their animus, the Woldwarden hardly needs justification for Cassius.  It is important, though, that you take Gallows Groves in addition to the Woldwarden, since they can’t cast Hellmouth and you’ll want to throw that spell out there from a safe distance.  Since the Gallows Groves need the same protection as Wurmwood, they’ll love the extra forests everywhere too, as well as helping you get rid of Tough models or even preventing an opposing warlock from transferring damage – if you can get close enough.

Lastly, the Ravagers and White Mane seem like quite the expensive unit but have incredible utility with Cassius.  With the potentially prolific Curse of Shadows these guys can literally run rampant through your opponent and even have the potential to wreck heavies.  With all of the forest generation and your own feat, the Ravagers (with help of the White Mane and CoS) can charge through your enemy’s lines and just go straight for their warcaster/warlock while sitting at DEF 15 in the woods – enough to keep them annoying for your opponent to dislodge for a turn.  Also, with the way the mechanics work, you can get a little bit of a “double dip” from Ravagers killing models – they’ll get corpse tokens and Wurmwood can collect souls!


So, finally, let’s discuss the major weaknesses for Cassius and this particular list.  First of all: collecting souls is a tricky business.  While it’s a potentially powerful mechanic (especially collecting them from 10″ away from Wurmwood, where most need to be within 2″), it’s also really easy to shut down and lots of players know how to do that.  RFP (Remove From Play) effects can shut you down as well as the obvious Soulless, Undead, and Construct rules.  This, however, is not a reason to not field Cassius!  He can operate fine without lots of souls and should be viewed as an optional (and useful) ability when it does come up.  In a similar way, Ravagers will have a problem collecting corpse tokens from certain models they kill, but at least it’s less restrictive than souls, so you can still get some effectiveness from them.

The second major weakness for Cassius is that a lot of forces out there feature models with Pathfinder, Hunter, or Eyeless Sight – let alone other forms of terrain or Stealth mitigation – because not having it can shut you down if you’re not ready for it.  The fact that Cassius relies on generating a huge forest can be huge against those models that aren’t prepared, but it can be nearly worthless if your opponent has a certain combination of abilities.  That said, few armies will be able to ignore all of the effects of your feat, so you should think of it as a multi-tiered feat that can be effective at something against a wide variety of targets:
1) Blocks LOS (to non-Hunter/Eyeless Sight)
2) Slows movement (to non-Pathfinder/Flight)
3) Provides Concealment/Stealth (to non-Eyeless Sight)
but also, with the list generated, there’s two extra benefits that cannot be easily ignored:
4) +2 DEF in melee for Cassius and Tharn
5) Cassius and Tharn can move through models and obstacles
If anyone had a feat that gave +2 DEF to friendly models and the ability to move through obstacles, models, you’d feel pretty awesome about that, right?  Well those two abilities can’t be mitigated very easily (especially with Curse of Shadows, again), so Cassius isn’t actually as bad as you might think otherwise in the list presented.

Even still, the meta where I am in the states features both Legion and Cryx heavily and both give Cassius an uphill battle, meaning he’s not seen much in the tournament scene.  If your particular meta sees an absence of either of those factions, or you’re up for a challenge, Cassius isn’t nearly as bad as you might think.  Circle is a challenging faction and requires you to think differently about how you engage your opponent.  Cassius is no exception to that, but that also doesn’t mean that he’s bad either.

Making eGrissel Work

Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen!  It’s Whitestar333, the Steam-Powered Gamer here with another article designed to help you think about how to build Warmachine/Hordes lists to play to the strength of your chosen warcaster/warlock!  With my order of a Dire Troll plastic kit and Mulg coming in this week, I want to revisit my plans for my Trolls.  They have been an army that I’ve wished to assembled off and on for some time now, and they’ve always been fun to play against.  When I first started playing Hordes I remember playing against a Troll player far more than anyone else and I quickly learned to respect the blue-skins.  Today I want to discuss a warlock who has faced some negative press since her arrival, but I’ve loved her model since it was released: Grissel Bloodsong, Marshal of the Kriels.  In particular, today I want to do some list building with her based largely on theory.  She strikes me as quite the interesting warlock and she has such an awesome model that I want to find a way to make her work.  Let’s jump right into it!

First I want to look at eGrissel’s feat because I find it to be quite interesting.  It seems fairly lackluster and unfocused, but her feat simultaneously gives all friendly models in her control area Hyper Aggressive and Unyielding.  What this means is that when a model is damaged by an enemy attack they can make a full advance towards the enemy model.  This can be quite useful against a foe which might want to soften you up before you get into their face and with Unyielding that also means that when you do get into their face, you are a little harder to damage.  This feat is an interesting defensive feat that can be used preemptively or if you’re already engaged and want some extra ARM.  This is not a game-breaking feat by any means but it will be quite useful with anything with a decent SPD.

Her spell list is really small and limited but don’t let that fool you!  She had two great spells that you’ll want to use fairly often.  The first is Dash, best known for being used by Rhyas and it gives +1 SPD for all friendly models in your control range and makes them immune to free strikes!  This again is better utilized by models which have a higher SPD value already, as while the +1 SPD is great, the immunity to free strikes is really something you’ll want to take advantage of.  This is a spell that will probably be cast every turn because if a unit runs that extra 2″ can also be quite advantageous!  You could also use this to run behind your enemy lines to ‘divide and conquor’ and popping your feat would mean your troopers would be annoyingly difficult to dislodge to boot!  You’ll definitely want multi-wound models to make the most advantage of her feat since the extra ARM adds to survivability while a model needs to be damaged to get the Hyper Aggressive benefit, and one-wound troopers would not really get to use it.

Her other useful spell is Inhospitable Ground.  While this spell can be easily ignored by models with Pathfinder, it can be situationally quite useful to allow your army to advance upfield quickly without worrying as much about getting charged first.  Even if your opponent has access to Pathfinder via spells or other abilities, casting this spell might at least blunt any plans they might have had for those abilities elsewhere.

Where eGrissel really shines, however, is that she is actually a ranged warlock.  With a reasonable POW on her ranged attacks and a decent RNG (with the help of an Impaler, of course) her ranged attacks are really what will help you to support your army.  On top of the fact that it’s ROF: 3, she can choose a special ammo type each time she “shoots” (really more like sings).  So while her spell list seems limited, she makes up for it with these ranged attacks that can have one of 3 different ammo types: Crescendo – a larger AOE and lower POW which damages models which enter or end their movement inside, Quake – which knocks down models in the AOE on a direct hit, and Sonic Eruption – a 10″ spray!  These offer Grissel some great front-line flexibility to support her troops offensively in ways in which other warcasters/warlocks would need to cast spells.  What Grissel offers is several ways of keeping her own models safe while keeping opposing models at bay until her force can strike hard.

So what does this mean for list building?  Well I really like her theme force, but without the models being released yet for the Sons of Bragg, it’s really not worth trying yet.  Instead I want to take advantage of multi-wound models since they can benefit the most from the added ARM of eGrissel’s feat.  This time I actually want to share two different lists that I’ve been tossing around.  Here’s the first:

Grissel Bloodsong, Marshall of the Kriels (+6)
– Troll Axer (6)
– Troll Impaler (5)
– Swamp Troll (4)
Trollkin Champions (min, 6)
– Skaldi Bonehammer (3)
Trollkin Champion Hero (3)
Trollkin Long Riders (min, 7)
Horthol (4)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2)

This list tries to make the most advantage of what Grissel has to offer.  Her ranged attacks can be quite effective at clearing out or at least clearing out swarms of lightly-armored infantry and once they get close she can even clear them out more with her spray.  Each model in her army has multiple damage boxes too, so it means you’ll be able to make the most of her feat, quickly engaging enemy models as well as benefitting from a higher ARM once engaging enemy models.  Long riders are a fun part of this list, especially with Dash, letting them make the most of their Cavalry rules like Ride-by-Attack, when they can’t be free-struck if they fail to kill their target.  Dash will also be quite effective at delivering your Champs into melee, and when you do, the combination of not being free-struck while being able to move through your own models (thanks to the Champ Hero), means that you can really cleave through lines of opposing infantry.

This list doesn’t benefit from the typical Troll philosphy of ‘bricking up’ and instead hits like a ton of bricks.  Even when faced with heavy targets like lots of warjacks and warbeasts, these guys can hit really hard since Grissel can make sure that enemy targets will have a hard time getting to you first, thanks to Quake knocking down targets (or at least getting warjacks/warbeasts to spend focus/fury to ‘shake’ the effect) or using Inhospitable Ground to keep the non-Pathfinder models/units at bay until you are able to get that crucial charge.

Lastly, the Stone Scribe Chronicler and the Swamp Troll offer some great denial effects that stack well with your feat should you choose to use it preemptively so your opponent will have to charge into you, but won’t like doing it.

These are models which are fairly common among most Troll lists but I wanted to try something a little different so I tried thinking outside of the box and created a second list that I figured might also work well:

eGrissel (+6)
– Earthborn Dire Troll (10)
– Dire Troll Bomber (10)
– Troll Impaler (5)
Kriel Stone Bearer (full, 4)
– Stone Scribe Elder (1)
Trollkin Runeshapers (4)
Trollkin Runeshapers (4)
Janissa Stonetide (3)

This might look a little strange at first, but if you forget entirely about using the spell Dash, this could be quite interesting to try.  Since eGrissel’s singing is ROF: 3, she can spend her fury on buying extra attacks or boosting damage instead of spending it casting spells.  This list sacrifices the melee prowess of Champions to instead focus on slamming your opponent with ranged attacks.  The Bomber is well-known for its powerful ranged attacks, but with Grissel being capable of knocking down a bunch of models in an AOE (thanks to Quake), the Bomber can be even more threatening.  The same holds true for the Runeshapers which have Critical Knockdown on their Rock Hammer or can even just cast Tremor to knock down a bunch of targets nearby.  Even the Impaler can knock targets down with his Critical Smite on his spear, so most of your list is capable of knocking your opponent onto their feat.

Another interesting interaction is with Janissa and the Runeshapers.  I’ve written before on my blog about how awesome Runeshapers are, but with Janissa they become even more interesting since she can give them Force Lock, meaning enemy models can’t leave their melee range.  With Grissel’s feat this can be quite interesting because if an enemy damages them they can advance forward and potentially lock-up enemy models from moving anywhere else (regardless of whether they have Parry, Acrobatics, Ghostly, or Incorporeal).  Throw in the Kriel Stone and the Unyielding from her feat and suddenly those Runeshapers are looking pretty difficult to kill on top of all of that!  You still have Janissa walking around throwing up a Rock Wall to keep your ranged units alive even longer and you have Tectonic Shift if your opponent throws a model in your face that can’t be knocked down, so you can just move it out of your way.

Trollkin women, unite!

This second list plays the attrition game rather well – keeping your models safe from reprisal while you barrage your enemy with a load of AOEs.  The Earthborn can comfortably sit back behind a rock wall and in the aura of your KSB (at ARM 22!) while the rest of your models throw out POW 14/15 AOEs and soften up a target for him to munch.  Even Grissel will be difficult for your opponent to assassinate while she’s sitting at DEF 17/19 behind Janissa’s Rock Wall and can be at ARM 21 thanks to the KSB and Elemental Communion.  Oh and on top of all of that, you can cast Inhospitable Ground just to mess with your opponent and buy yourself even more time to sit back lobbing AOEs in their face.

Making Zaal Work [differently]

Greetings again everyone from the Steam-Powered Gamer!  It’s that time again to look at a Warmachine/Hordes warcaster/warlock and figure out what makes them tick and build a list with that in mind.  Much like last time, I don’t wish to imply that today’s warlock is bad or anything, but merely just want to share some musings I’ve had with this particular warlock lately to make him work differently than you might see him played typically.  I’ve largely not been terribly interested in the Skorne, admittedly; they’re too heavy-handed of a faction for my tastes.  The only warlocks who really catch my interest are Zaal and Mordikaar, and I’ve always had a love of animated constructs, so Zaal is a really interesting warlock to me.  So without further ado, let’s take a look at Supreme Aptimus Zaal and see how I can twist around the usual take on him – starting with his spell list this time.

Zaal has a very interesting set of spells that he has access to.  It’s obvious from his spell list right away that Zaal will want to be supporting his army and not really spell-slinging or charging into the front lines.  Even then, Zaal plays support in a very interesting way.  He really only has one easy-to-use buff, and that’s Inviolable Resolve, granting extra ARM and making a model/unit fearless.  A solid buff to use on a unit that already has a large ARM value.  Fearless is great and all, but it really isn’t something to write home about.  It’s always something that you’ll be grateful that you have it when you need it, but it’s not something that you always want.  It’s very handy on a front-line unit that you will expect to take some casualties.

Hmmm… yep!  These guys fit the bill quite nicely!

His other buff is a straight offensive one, which is really interesting in its application.  Last Stand is an upkeep that gives a model/unit an additional die on its attack and damage rolls.  The only drawback?  Once a model makes an attack, it will be destroyed at the end of turn!  This is interesting because it will make sure that you hit and damage your target, but at what cost?  You’ll need to keep this spell on a unit that you want to hit really hard, and you’ll need to be careful not to blow it too early or you risk missing out on some field coverage when you really need it.  This also goes fairly well with Zaal’s feat, which will discuss in a minute.  Next on the buff spell list is Awakened Spirit.  This interesting upkeep is placed onto a warbeast and allows the warbeast to use it’s animus for free!  This pretty awesome as long as it’s upkept and allows you to save fury with your warbeasts for other, more important things like buying extra attacks.  We’ll definitely want to throw this on a target that will be using it’s animus fairly regularly.

These guys would probably be good for Last Stand

Next, Zaal has 2 offensive spells: Hex Blast and Sunder SpiritSunder Spirit is situational and really is only good against Hordes armies as it only affects warbeasts.  If you damage the warbeast with this spell then they lose their animus for one round.  Pretty solid, but you’ll probably need to boost the damage roll in order to do enough to damage a warbeast.  Lastly, Hex Blast is a neat little offensive AOE that removes any upkeeps on the model/unit.  This is a very useful little spell because not only does it remove upkeeps but it also is still an AOE.  This is great for dealing with the Kayazy Assassins who seem to be growing in popularity.  Not only can you strip Iron Flesh off of them, but you can also kill a couple with blast damage!

Okay, okay.  So Zaal likes
Ancestral Guardians.  Next?

Okay so while Zaal’s spells are okay, the real meat and potatoes with this guy is actually in his passive abilities.  The first, most important ability, in my opinion is Direct Spirits.  Not only does it screw over Cryx by not allowing them to take souls in his control area, but he can direct where those souls go!  This is pretty significant because sometimes models like Ancestral Guardians or Aptimus Marketh won’t be as close as you’d like to gobble up the soul, so being able to tell the souls where to go is quite significant!  It allows you to more effectively recycle your own troops as souls with the double benefit of getting their ancestral rage during feat turn too!  Not only that, but even when you run out of souls to give, you can just spend one fury to give each Ancestral Guardian a soul via Soul Converter.  Zaal loves his Ancestral Guardians, but he does use them for his own gains too, and since he has Union [Ancestral Guardians], it means that he can also transfer damage to them should he suffer it, instead of transferring to a warbeast.  It’s situational, but it could be useful for popping out Kovas.

The last abilities that people might forget that Zaal has are Gunfighter, allowing him to shoot in melee (2″ because he also has reach!) as well as Ghost Sight, allowing him to ignore LOS, concealment, and cover!  This means that he’s quite the potent shot with his Spirit Eye – especially since you can add the target’s STR to the damage roll if they’re a living model.  Again, this suggests that Zaal is much better off dealing with Hordes armies, because it means that he can usually deal straight damage to a heavy warbeast.  The only problem?  The range is fairly short for a ranged attack.

The last thing to look at with Zaal is that he also comes with a buddy: Kovas.  Kovas is an interesting solo because the only way it can really come into play is through the destruction of an Ancestral Guardian.  What’s also interesting is that while you can only have one Kovas in play at a time, if he dies and then another Guardian is destroyed, Kovas comes back into play!  This is a great way to recycle your own Guardians and takes a bit of the sting out of using them as transfer targets.  On top of that, Kovas is basically a turbo-charged Void Spirit, but it has a Thresser (* Attack) with Reach, AND it can collect the souls of it’s enemies (as well as those that Zaal wishes to send his way!).

Zaal + Kovas = BFFs.  Got it.

If you haven’t figured it out, Zaal is all about using the souls of the dead to fuel an army of super-charged freaks.  His feat epitomizes this above all else.  What’s interesting about this feat is that throughout the game you need to keep track of your models which have been destroyed.  Each model that has been destroyed will, on his feat turn, provide an Ancestral Rage token that can be used by anyone to boost an attack or damage roll for one token per boost.  Note that these tokens cannot be used to buy extra attacks – only boosting!  Even still, it means that whatever models remain standing can be quite angry on his feat turn.  You have to be careful to weigh out when exactly you want to use this feat, because if you use it too late, you won’t have any models left to use those tokens.  It’s a tricky dance you’ll need to perform.

So now here’s where I present a list.  Like I said earlier, Zaal is hardly a bad warlock, and there are lots of great ways to build a list with him.  I want to try something very different today and make a list that will be quite different than most conventional Skorne lists and try to justify to you why I think it will work well.  Before I begin, I will add that I believe this list will largely only be effective against Hordes armies, but if you came across a Cryx warcaster who loves munching on souls (Terminus comes to mind) then this might do okay.  The importance of this exercise it to open your mind up to new options and think outside of the box to new possibilities that might lead to new strategies.  Here we go:

The Immortal Host – Tier 3 – 35 Points
Supreme Aptimus Zaal (+5)
– Kovas (free)
– Cyclops Raider (5)
– Titan Cannoneer (9)

– Aptimus Marketh (3)
Praetorian Karax (full, 6)
Praetorian Swordsmen (full, 6)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Hakar the Destroyer (4) 

Fortunately, PP decided to release this IP free so that way
I can share it with you to see the nitty-gritty details!

I know, the Cyclops Raider isn’t out yet, but he’s just so good!  First of all, the guy can ignore stealth – a main problem with Zaal’s spirit eye (although the Soulwards can grant eyeless sight).  Secondly, his animus will just be terribly useful for Zaal, Marketh, and the Soulwards!  This is where Awakened Spirit will come in handy to make sure that the Raider can save some fury on passing out such a great animus, and Marketh can even upkeep it by spending one of his souls instead of spending the fury.  Oh, right, I almost forgot.  Thanks to the fact that this is a Tier 3 list, each Soulward and Marketh starts with 3 souls each.  That’s a very significant advantage considering we’ll be using Far Strike from the Raider to bring each of these models ranges to reasonable levels.  Since each on of their spirit eyes does the same thing as Zaals, you can imagine having 4 POW 16-18 rolls against heavy warbeasts could be quite devastating.  Toss in the Cannoneer for a long-range AOE (with Far Strike) and you’ll quickly realize that this entire list is built around the ranged game!

What are you giggling at…? HEY!  IT’S NOT LIKE THAT

The full unit of Karax often gets some bad publicity compared to their Swordsmen brethren, but they become quite respectable with Inviolable Resolve on them.  The Swordsmen will be great with Last Stand on them as well, since they’ll get two attacks each before getting killed, maximizing their killyness before they die.  Also, having 20 living models on the table not only means more Ancestral Rage tokens (which can be used by all of those Spirit Eyes, by the way) but also more souls for your soulwards.  Suddenly those two point solos are looking quite scary now that you realize that they can boost their spirit eye damage pretty much every turn.  That’s a lot of hurt going towards heavy warbeasts.  Toss in the Ancestral Guardian and Hakar the Destroyer for some great melee ‘oomph’ and flank protection and we have a list that will take ground while laying down some punishing firepower with some consistent boosting of damage – which by the way ignores LOS, concealment, cover, and stealth between the ghost shot rules and the Soulwards granting eyeless sight.  Oh and they have gunfighter too with these magical weapons, meaning that even incorporeal models can’t just run past you!  Certainly makes you think, doesn’t it!

Like I already said, this list does certainly have its weaknesses and is definitely intended to give the Hordes factions serious headaches for the most part, but I think it’ll become far more effective at 50 points:

It’s a bit spammy, I know, but
at least it’s thematic!

Supreme Aptimus Zaal (+5)
– Kovas (free)
– Cyclops Shaman (5)
– Cyclops Raider (5)
– Titan Cannoneer (9)
– Aptimus Marketh (3)
Praetorian Karax (full, 6)
Praetorian Swordsmen (full, 6)
– Officer and Standard (2)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Extoler Soulward (2)
Hakar the Destroyer (4)

Who said Skorne can’t do a ranged army?

Making pKrueger Work

Hey everyone, it’s time for another list building article from the Steam-Powered Gamer!  Today I want to share one of my favorite Circle Orboros warlocks: Krueger the Stormwrath (pKrueger).  Unfortunately, Krueger gets ignored fairly often in a tournament environment in favor of his epic version, Krueger the Stormlord.  While I will not argue the awesome power that is the Stormlord, I want to highlight the Stormwrath because I tend to have a lot of success with him, and decided that it was time to share my perspectives on what makes him such a great warlock and how I make him work.  This article will be especially sweet because I have recently had a game with pKrueger and wrote a battle report for it on my blog.  So, once you’ve read up on pKrueger here, feel free to trundle over and see how I played him (although admittedly, I made a lot of mistakes!).  As you know, I always like to start with looking at either the feat or the spells of the warlock that I investigate, and with pKrueger, let’s start by looking at his spell list.

Krueger has an interesting spell list but the first one is the most important (in my opinion): Chain Lightning.  It’s very important that you understand exactly how this spell works.  Upon a hit on the target model, the model takes a POW 10 electrical damage roll, and then the lightning arcs to the next d6 targets within 4″ of the last target it.  In other words, this spell has the potential to hit 7 separate targets with a POW 10, and the last target can be potentially ~24″ away.  Granted, both situation is rare, but it’s important to understand how effective this spell can be.  What’s also important to note is that while you need to roll to hit the target, the d6 additional leaps are automatic hits!  This is great for hitting high-DEF infantry, but even a POW 10 still has a great chance at killing infantry that are ARM 15.  The trick, of course, is hitting that initial target, but we’ll get back to that later.

Kruger’s offensive spells… essentially

Krueger’s other offensive spell is Tornado, which I must admit I have never actually used.  Even still, it can be quite the effective spell if you need it to be, despite it’s expensive fury cost.  Like I said, I haven’t used it at all in my experiences playing with Krueger, but I do believe that it could be useful at moving a threatening target away from you or throw a model on top of a more valuable target.  For example, you could angle Krueger so that you could potentially fling a heavy warjack on top of the opponent’s warcaster.  Situational, but worth remembering if the situation arises.

The rest of Krueger’s spells are quite interesting and provide the impression that Krueger is also decent at supporting his force.  Deflection is a simple and cheap upkeep that provides +2 ARM for warrior models against ranged and magic attacks.  While this doesn’t sound particularly great (since most Circle infantry is low-ARM anyway), it can be situationally useful for our heavy infantry like Ravagers or Skinwalkers, or even bumping the ARM of Shifting Stones to 20 if you’re worried about ranged attacks against them.  Lightning Tendrils is his last support buff and it’s pretty great, although you’ll want to throw it on something that already can get a relatively high P+S, as it only grants Reach and Electro-Leap, and not a damage bonus.  The last spell that Krueger has is Skyborne, and it’s one of my favorite spells for him.  It’s non-upkeepable (meaning it’s immune to Purification!) and it grants +2 SPD, DEF and Flight to Krueger.  This is great because it lets you move throughout your lines without worrying about getting boxed-in.  It let’s Krueger move away from threats and get into tight spots that he might not be able to get to otherwise.  On top of that, it gives him a flat DEF of 17 that even Legion will have a hard time hitting (take THAT Eyeless Sight!).

Before I look at Krueger’s feat, I do want to mention quickly that he does shoot lightning from his fists at a whopping POW 13 plus Electro-Leap.  That’s pretty impressive and you should be shooting your lightning as often as possible, if for no other reason than to hit a heavy target and leap onto something else nearby.  He also has some assassination potential, thanks to Sustained Attack, but even at MAT 5, you shouldn’t go after anyone DEF 15+ because if you miss that initial boosted swing, you’ll probably not have enough fury to complete the assassination run.  Okay, last but not least, let’s look at pKrueger’s feat.

Pictured: Krueger’s feat

pKrueger has one of the most interesting feats out there because it lasts more than one round and can have a huge impact on the flow of the game.  He puts down three 3″ AOEs within his control area and any model touched by the AOE takes a POW 10 electrical damage roll (boostable).  This is huge because it’s perfect for taking down high-DEF models since they’re auto-hit, but even higher ARM targets like Bane Knights can still have a decent chance of getting killed.  Additionally, any model which enters or ends it’s movement in one of the AOEs also takes a POW 10 damage roll.  But wait!  There’s more!  Not only do you get great board control with his feat on top of dealing damage instantly to models, but at the start of each maintenance phase (before leeching fury and paying for upkeeps), you have to choose one of the templates to remove from the game.  That means that pKrueger’s feat actually lasts for three rounds, and depending on the placement of those AOEs, you can some significant benefits from it!

Okay now that we’ve looked at pKrueger himself, I’ll share my list with him at 35 points:

pKrueger (+5)
– Woldwarden (9)
– Woldwarden (9)
– Feral Warpwolf (9)
Druids of Orboros (7)
– Druid Overseer (2)
Shifting Stones (2)
Shifting Stones (2)


This is a simple and straight-forward list that’s a lot of fun.  The best features of this list are the pair of Woldwardens and the Shifting Stones, and that’s because of Geomancy.  Woldwardens have an ability called Geomancy which allows you to force the Woldwarden to cast one of your warlock’s spells that costs 3 fury or less, that doesn’t have a RNG of SELF or CTRL.  This means that for pKrueger the Woldwardens can cast Lightning Tendrils or Chain Lightning – for the cost of forcing with one fury.  What this means is that in my list my two Woldwardens can shoot out 2 Chain Lightnings per turn, chewing through a ridiculous amount of infantry.  While the spell is great, the most elegant part of all of this is that even models with Stealth or have a high-DEF are still easy to hit, thanks to the Shifting Stones.  Since Shifting Stones are ARM 18 and have 5 boxes, they are quite resilient to getting shot with Chain Lightning, and since they’re DEF 5, they are basically hit automatically.  How it works is that I shift the stones their ~9″ (since Shift is ‘within’ 8″ and not ‘completely within’) near my intended target, and since Chain Lightning arcs 4″ to the next target, I can target models deep into my opponent’s lines.  Once again, all for the cost of forcing my Woldwarden.

With my Woldwardens chucking out Chain Lightning all over the board, this allows me to keep my opponent busy while the Druids advance under the cover of Vortex and Counter Magic, and Krueger can even throw out a Chain Lightning if I need another, and he can still shoot.  All this equates to dealing with most infantry without much of a problem.  This means that the Feral Warpwolf is able to sit back and wait patiently for his time to pounce, and with Lightning Tendrils his threat range is 13″ when he warps for SPD, and with MAT 7 he’ll rarely need to boost to hit his intended targets (other heavies) and can instead boost damage if he needs to.

The new Feral model is quite beautiful
(and is quick and easy to assemble!)

Lastly, I have to admit that lately I haven’t been sold on the Overseer.  Originally he was intended to provide immunity to electricity for the Druids if I wanted to arc off of them, but since I’m already pretty good with the stones (especially since they can’t engage), I find that the immunity isn’t really helpful.  Similarly, I don’t find myself using The Devouring too often.  The only real benefits I’ve seen for having the Overseer is Advance Deployment (which is admittedly pretty great) and the extra inch for Counter Magic.  We’ll see if he stays.

Now you should go check out my battle report to see how I did using the list!  Make sure to also read the debriefing, as it’ll clue you in on what kinds of errors I made and how I could have used the list more effectively.

Making Dr. Arkadius Work – Part 2

Greetings ladies and gentlemen.  It is Whitestar333 again from Steam-Powered Gamer here to bring you the thrilling conclusion to Making Dr. Arkadius Work!  First, I would like to put in a shameless plug for my own blog article where I continued the discussion of Dr. Arkadius with a list of things that will make Dr. Arkadius more of a contender (here).

Let’s quickly review where we left off with our analysis of Dr. Arkadius does:
– “Protects” beasts from enemy shooting
– Efficient beast healer
– Fury manager with feat and maltreatment
Cannot deal damage by himself

The natural conclusion here is that Dr. Arkadius should run with lots of warbeasts.  I believe that the best way to run our Dr. Frankenpig is with lots of War Hogs in a tight formation, while Arkadius sits back and waits for the counter-charge.  While it was mentioned that the feat could be used as an alpha-strike tool, I think that in larger games, it will be better utilized as fury management to gain extra attacks and drop insane amounts of fury.  Similarly, Arkadius cannot deal much damage himself, so he should make sure he is protected at all times, and when facing an army that has lots of incorporeal models, he will need to make sure that no models can be placed too close to threaten him.

Without further ado, here’s a list that I developed which I believe will play to the strengths of Dr. Arkadius:

Dr. Arkadius – Mad Science (Tier 4) – 50 points

Dr. Arkadius (+6)
– War Hog (7*)
– War Hog (7*)
– War Hog (7*)
– War Hog (7*)
– War Hog (7*)
– Targ (2)
Rorsh + Brine (9)
Farrow Bone Grinders (min, 2)
Farrow Brigands (full, 8)
Redeploy one model/unit
Receive a +1 to starting game roll
– Warbeasts gain +2 SPD first turn

Since there are not many additional models to choose from in the Thornfall Alliance pact, I believe that Dr. Arkadius’ theme force offers enough benefits to make it worth considering.  While some of the other benefits are “meh”, having War Hogs for 7 points is a good deal (and hilarious) and making them a normal SPD 6 on the first turn can be beneficial to get them into a better position early.

Rorsh and Brine are necessary for a rapid-response team and they are great for holding down a flank since Rorsh can make Brine incredibly fast for a pig-beast (thanks to diversionary tactics) and Rorsh can also kill chunks of models by himself since he can both shoot his pig-iron and throw dynamite (read that card carefully!).  Place these two on your weakest flank, opposite your opponent’s solo support.

The Farrow Brigands are a great utility infantry unit that don’t offer much to Arkadius except for more opportunities to kill off infantry models and shielding your War Hogs.  The usage of Brigands will heavily depend on what force you are facing across the table.  If it’s lots of infantry, you’ll want to keep them behind the War Hogs to make the most of their pig-irons.  If it’s lots of warjacks/warbeasts that you’re seeing across the table, these guys should stay in front of the War Hogs, to make sure that you can counter-charge more effectively.


Lastly, the 5 War Hogs are the staple of this list.  Since Aggravator and Psycho-Surgery affect each model in his battlegroup, this means that having lots of War Hogs will get the most mileage out of these two spells.  Aggravator is a situational spell, but can be quite aggravating (see what I did there?) for your opponent and prevents your War Hogs from being pinged with damage.  Also, with 5 of these guys, you can run a tight line formation to limit the number of enemy models that can engage them, while still having a threatening frontage.  This also means you can afford to lose 1 or 2 of these guys when your opponent strikes, because War Hogs can trash opposing heavies with the help of Aggression Dial (also mitigated a bit by Psycho-Surgery).  If you are lucky enough to have all 5 War Hogs alive and fully-functioning when you hit your enemy, you can even use a mind-boggling 20 fury points and then pop your feat to drain off as much of it as you want.  Lastly, Dr. Arkadius can throw Forced Evolution onto beasts at will, just in case they need that extra “oomph.”

What this all means is that Dr. Arkadius can decimate any warbeast/warjack-heavy army with relative ease, but you definitely need to be careful in how you plan.  Dr. Arkadius is not for the feint of heart.  Also, I make no claims that he is better than Lord Carver or Sturm and Drang, so let’s not make those arguments, but if you have the itch to try him, it is possible to have fun with him and to win a fair share of games.  It all comes down to amplifying your strengths and mitigating weaknesses.

Why Rasheth is the Best Warlock in All of Warmahordes

When I go out to get my mail
it measures on the Richter scale.

Disclaimer: I could write literally for days on how I play Rasheth. This is probably going to end up being a fairly long article. 

Rasheth es #1. Huehuehue.

So, Rasheth. He’s the warlock I have most experience with him in the entire Skorne faction. Hell, probably the whole game to be honest. I love his playstyle (super passive) and his fluff. And y’know, if I was a monstrously powerful sorcerer, I’d probably roll the same way he does.

So, what makes Notorious BIG strong? In my opinion, 3 things make him strong. Dark Ritual, his Tier List, and FURY 8. So, lets talk a bit about John Candy. We’ll start with his stats. Basically, they’re absolute garbage. He has the worst (to my knowledge) defensive stats (Def+Arm) in the game. With them adding together to give a mighty total of 24. He has a lot of boxes, but you’d kind of expect that. He has useless MAT and RAT due to his lack of weapon, crappy SPD, and mediocre command. Oh, and his STR sucks too. The only good stat he has is the vast wealth of FURY he has. Highest in faction. And boy, can he use it. Sort of.

Spell wise? Good. He has a good spell list. Feat is…. great (not eGaspy, but it’s good), if you know what you’re doing with it. The restriction on it shouldn’t be there though. He should also have Death March rather than Carnivore. Or some equivalent that isn’t living only. Otherwise he has a fandabby toolbox of spells. The main spell he uses is Breath of Corruption. It’s his bread and butter. Sunder Spirit is pretty good too, as is Blood Mark. Castigate is a “throw it up if it’s useful.” You’ll use it all the time some games, and not at all in others. The problem with it, is that Agonizers do the same thing. For less Fury. Fat Joe obviously covers a larger area, but he’s further back. Carnivore is a fantastic spell, especially on Gatormen (you’re playing Tubbs, you’re bringing Gatormen) because a model with 2 MAT9 rerollable attacks is horrific. I’ve killed eMorghoul on his feat turn with these guys before. Absolute brutality.

I’m also gonna say a little bit about his feat. Not much, as it ties into the “how I play Fatty” section, a little bit later. But basically, it’s a very underrated feat. It is, however, far better against Hordes than Warmachine. Why? Warjacks aren’t living. Basically the way I use this feat is defensively, almost always. Unless I’m against something like WGI + Jack Khador, or Bane Thrall Cryx, or whatever. Making Legion heavies P+S13,  or your gators effective ARM22 is something a lot of forces (not Cryx) can’t deal with.

Anyway, with this in mind, we can see Jack Black is obviously a backline caster. However, this is Hordes, we don’t get Arc Nodes! Surely he must have some shenanigan, some… dark ritual, that allows him to circumvent this? Well, luckily for you readers, he does indeed. Dark Ritual is an absolute beast of a rule (in my opinion) and the main hook for playing him. At least, for me. What this nifty little rule lets you do is Arc through any warrior model in your (massive) control range. The warrior takes some superficial damage (which is why multiwound infantry is so good with Chris Moyles), but you can skim over that. This means every warrior model, be it a solo, trooper, officer, character, whatever, is an arc node. The tactical implications of that are huge. For example, one game I had brought eSkarre down to 2 boxes on her feat turn (forgot to feat, had I feated it would have been game there >_<), but the eSkarre player realised that in his turn he had to kill literally every warrior model in my army to avoid losing next turn. This means Cartman has some amazing spot removal, by arcing little aoes all over the place. Another important thing to note about those AOEs is it's not blast damage, great for things like bunched up Satyxis, or Retribution, or whatever. So, so far we know that he’s a backline caster with some amazing (accurate, FURY 8 remember) spot removal and a nice toolbox, great. Now lets have a look at his Tier List.

Best solo in Hordes.

Fat B*stard has the best tier list in all of Skornedom. Yeah, I said it. Why? Well, you get to bring the Skorne essentials (Paingiver Beast Handlers and Titans). You also get to bring MULTIPLE Agonizers. The most overpowered solo in all of Hordes. These things are stronger than eEiryss, seriously. Also, you get to bring Gatormen (awesome), Paingiver Task Masters (for said Gatormen) and Cataphract Arcuarii (not as good as Cetrati, but multiwound infantry are really good with Oprah). Also Venator units, and some other stuff, but I don’t feel they fit in with him so much (still to properly test Venators, to be fair). So, the benefits of his Tier? Cheaper Titans. This is always good. Means if you’re running Tier you will have 8+ beast points, effectively. You also get to bring more than one Agonizer. I can’t stress how good this is. These agonizers also start the game with Fury. Which is ridiculous, by the way. Having 2-3 Aggies running around on 4-5 Fury on turn one is something a lot of people don’t wanna have to deal with. You also get +2SPD turn one on 1-2 minion units depending on Taskmasters. This is pretty good. I’ve gotten first turn gator charges off before. Also, running Swamp Gobbers 16″ then channelling is something an awful lot of people don’t expect. Then, the standard extra deployment. Can’t ever complain about that.

So, lets put this all together. I’ll show you the tried and tested Pam Tier 4 list I ran at Mike Brandt’s NOVA.

Titan Sentry
Titan Sentry
Titan Gladiator
Basilisk Krea
5 Gatormen
6 Cataphract Arcuarii
4 Paingiver Beast Handlers
2 Paingiver Task Masters
2 Agonizers

Now, taking into account what we’ve already learned about how Bruce Vilanch is amongst the most backline of backline casters, how does this play? Well, to quote myself (cause I’m lazy):

“Turn one the Gladiator casts Rush on a sentry and tramples. Sentry #1 Tramples. Kyle Gass casts Rush on Sentry, casts carnivore on gators, pours fury into aggies (1 or 2 each) and advances. A Taskmaster moves so he is within 3″ of gators, and kind of facing diagonally (so he can see a gator) and gives them tough. Gators run 14”, taking Def13/Pathfinder. Other Taskmaster runs. Aggies both run. Make sure that your solos are safe behind titans/gators and safe from aoes. The paingivers don’t need to manage fury (you’re ****ing Snorlax, you have 8).

Next turn tends to be taking what most people would consider bait. Now, this is interesting for Gordon Brown, because you can take bait and come out of it alive. For example, you can charge into that deliberately overextended unit of, lets say Steelhead Halberdiers with your gators because, next turn, those gators will be ARM 20 in melee. And none of their jacks will have any focus. Phillip Seymour Hoffman should be 16″ away from the front lines (so very safe). Quite often he doesn’t need to advance until turn 3. You can run up your Sentries to locker down beasts/heavies if you want, cause next turn you will be effectively ARM23 with no focus on jacks, or ARM 25. Basically, take the first punch, then kill them.”

I’m going to wrap up here, I feel like I’ve said enough, and will struggle to go on without repeating myself….

 Yeah, he’s hard to deal with. Basically, he is one of the better attrition casters in WM/H, with brutal assassination possibilities (boosted pow12s kill casters) and a very safe playstyle. Definitely a favourite caster of mine, and honestly doesn’t have nearly as many bad matchups as people make out. His weaknesses? Well, stuff that shreds armour, basically. He does not enjoy parasite. But the biggest hate he has, is far and away Bane Thralls. eGaspy and a horde of Bane Thralls. Ugh, nightmare (and that’s why a 2nd/3rd list is a good thing to have!).

Well, hope this article inspires some people to try out this much maligned Warlock who’s very near and dear to my heart. At the very least I would hope to start some discussion.

Thanks for reading.

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