Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lord Tyrant Hexeris: Thoughts/Tips

I finally have some experience with Hexeris (at least enough to write SOMETHING about him).  He's certainly different than the other Skorne warlocks I've used, and with his epic version coming out, there's never been a better time to be excited about him!

His stats aren't really amazing (or terrible) all around.  Average SPD, decent MAT, DEF, and ARM.  Having 17 damage boxes actually puts him slightly above average in Skorne, and he has a few ways to heal himself.  His FURY stat of 7 is really nice as well.  Overall, his stats are pretty average or slightly above average.

His only attack is Gulgata, a moderate P+S weapon with reach.  It has Beat Back, which is a nice ability that lets Hexeris move his opponent around some, either to push him into a more favorable position, or even to push him out of combat, if you'd like.  Also, it has Life Drinker- if he kills a living enemy model, he can heal d3 damage.

I don't find myself getting into combat much with Hexeris, but it's actually not that bad if you do.  P+S 14 will definitely get the job done, and with Beat Back to help move people out of combat if you'd like, Life Drinker will help keep him alive, and with Vampiric Reaving (look under Special Rules) he can really get a lot of Fury during his turn to be very effective.  Of course, you aren't going to have that happen too terribly often, but even though it rarely occurs it's a nice addition.

Hexeris' feat is Dark Dominion.  When an enemy living or undead model is boxed while in his control area, you gain control of them, they become undead, they can move three inches, make an attack, and then are removed from play.  With luck, you can chain this through your opponent's army, getting a lot of value for a single death (although in practice, you're lucky to get even the one extra dead model per model you kill).  With luck, you can drop an opponent's warbeast with some of your attacks, and get a free warbeast attack (with no lost aspects) on another of an opponent's models.

As I 've said, with some luck, this becomes a TERRIFYING feat.  I mean, it can end a game sometimes.  Usually, you'll use it to kill models that are blocking charge lanes, or get a few extra points of damage on something that you're having a hard time killing.

Death March: This spell tends to get used every game.  Extra MAT and Vengeance is really helpful in a generally melee oriented army.  You'll need the extra MAT often enough to make it worth using for that alone, but having the extra attacks from Vengeance, plus the extra movement can make even mediocre offensive units into something a lot scarier.  Throw it on something first turn, and move it to something else when the time comes.

Obliteration: AOE 4 POW 15 attack.  Decent damage and the AOE is nice, but at a cost of 4, you're not likely to cast it often during your games.  However, on the feat turn, sending one of these into a group of enemies can really get you started on the right foot.  I find I rarely cast this.

Psychic Vampire: This spell is incredibly helpful against some armies, and not nearly as useful against others.  However, even with the 'less useful' armies, it still might be nice to cast right away and upkeep it.  Whenever an enemy model casts a spell or uses an animus while in Hexeris' control area, they take a point of damage and Hexeris heals a point.  This spell will put a definite limit on the lifespan of several units, including Greylords, Battle Mages, Hex Hunters, and Druids.  It'll also chip away at those spell casting solos pretty quickly.  The healing is a nice bonus that could occasionally keep you in the game. 

Against warcasters and warlocks, it's not quite so strong, but how often do you find your opponent at 1 health after your turn?  Often enough that this can really be a powerful spell.

Soulfire: This is a pretty solid spell.  It's POW 12, but removes the boxed model from play if it kills it (effectively making it useless for your feat).  However, if you kill a living non-soulless model with the spell, you gain a fury (effectively making the spell only cost a single fury to cast!).  POW 12 is high enough to be deadly to most infantry, and with the extra fury you can get a lot of mileage out of this spell.

Soul Slave:  Two parts to this one- first, the warbeast you cast it on automatically passes threshold checks.  That's actually not so bad on its own, although with Paingivers and FURY 7 you're not going to be struggling horribly with managing it.  However, in addition to that, Hexeris can channel through the model this spell is on.  That's REALLY nice. 

Throw it on a Bronzeback, and none of your Titans needs to worry about Threshold checks.  Throw it on a Gladiator, slam something, and start casting at the knocked down models.

There are plenty of ways that this spell can be handy so it's probably good enough to say that you'll be throwing this on something from the very beginning and upkeeping it the entire time.

Special Rules:
Vampiric Reaving: Hexeris can reave fury from enemy warbeasts if he's closer than anyone else who could do the reaving.  Not only do you get extra fury, which is always really helpful for spell casting, healing, or holding for transferring, but you also deprive it from your opponent, who is going to be more restricted about doing those things next turn.  Of course, this ability means that you'll want to keep Hexeris up towards the front line a little, but with the abilities he has to help heal himself, having him just behind the front line isn't such a bad idea.

Cyclops Savage: Other than the benefits the Cyclops Savage gives to the other members of your army, there isn't really any major synergy between the two.  Perhaps making Soulfire more likely to hit would be nice, but there are probably better targets for Prescience.  Soul Slave isn't really that helpful on the Savage either.

Molik Karn: Since Karn is so good in every list, it makes sense that he would work so well with Hexeris.  Soul Slave is really nice for when Karn gets too far ahead.  You can very effectively extend your spell threat range.  The amount of pain Karn can dish out can really feed Hexeris' feat turn.  Hexeris' 14" control area gives Karn the ability to operate even further out.

Titan Cannoneer: I really like taking a Cannoneer with Hexeris for a few reasons.  First, the gun is very handy on the feat turn.  Shooting into low ARM infantry can really effectively clear them out.  Second, when you're in position to shoot the gun, you'll be in position to channel some offensive spells through (via Soul Slave).  The shooting + offensive spells can make for a moderately effective ranged threat.  Also, since Hexeris is likely to be fairly close to the front, Diminish is a very handy animus to have available.

Titan Gladiator: Another very strong choice for Hexeris.  Soul Slave allows you to put an arc node equivalent right in the midst of your opponent's army, where, after a Gladiator's slam, you should have some very vulnerable targets to drop an Obliteration or a Soulfire onto.  Using the Gladiator as any sort of wrecking ball for some spell attacks is pretty effective.

Paingiver Beast Handlers: Not really any major synergy, although you can run really beast heavy if you wanted, because Soul Slave removes the threat of frenzying from a beast.  Of course, you'll end up taking these guys in almost every list you can take anyway.

Praetorian Swordsmen: Death March on these guys is really nice.  They become MAT 8 with is really nice, and with Vengeance, they become quite a bit more threatening, especially to a nearby beast or jack.  Moving from two attacks to a potential three, in addition to the extra movement potentially provided by Vengeance (and Side-Step, of course), Hexeris can turn this unit into a huge pain in your opponent's army.  Certainly not a bad choice.

Agonizer: There's no special synergy with the Agonizer, but the extra durability that he could bring may be handy.  Two less damage from living models may be the difference between alive and dead with Hexeris, you never know.

Ancestral Guardian: Not any particular synergy, but reach and potential to have extra attacks can make the Ancestral Guardian an effective starter during a feat turn.

Tier Thoughts:
Hexeris' tier list is called the 'Kingdom of Shadow.'  It's a very non-restrictive list of models you can include, although to hit tier 4 you're required to take 2 units of Praetorian Swordsmen (giving them Advanced Deployment), Aptimus Marketh (who I'll review soon, and is an amazing choice), and at least two Cataphract units.  The benefits (Advance Deploy, Advance Move, and an extended deployment zone) are all geared to get you to grips with the enemy faster, and combined with Death March and some strong beasts, this could be a very effective combination of tools. 

Oh, and he gets to have all his upkeeps up on the first turn.  That's just fantastic of course.  I've heard about using a Soul Slaved Razor Worm to put a shot into your opponent's deployment zone Turn 1, but I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know exactly how helpful that is.

Since this list is fairly open, I'll try to get it on the table one of these days in the not too distant future.  Looks like it could be very effective.

Overall, Hexeris is a fairly strong caster.  You don't see him taken in a lot of major tournaments, because he isn't as 'easy' as some of the other strong Skorne casters.  You'll want to take a strong melee-oriented army, with at least one good melee unit (even Swordsmen work here), and a beast that'll need to be up close.  All three of his upkeeps will probably be in play the entire game, leaving Hexeris enough focus for a solid Soulfire shot.  I think Aptimus Marketh is absolutely required to run Hexeris- the extra spell a turn can save you some focus (even if you're just recasting an upkeep so that Hexeris doesn't have to pay for it), and the occasional ability to upkeep spells can help Hexeris' fury go a long way. 

You'll probably end up playing fairly close to the action, so you'll need to make sure to have some protection as well as focus to leave on Hexeris in order to transfer damage.  He can heal himself, a couple of ways, which will extend his lifespan.  I've been able to fairly successfully run Hexeris as a backfield caster, but it can be a little tough if your Soul Slaved beast gets heavily engaged.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Skorne vs Khador, 35 pts, 9/23/11

No pictures sadly, but did at least get a game in against Rob.

My list:
Archdomina Makeda
* Basilisk Krea
* Molik Karn
* Titan Gladiator
Cataphract Arcuarii (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Praetorian Swordsmen (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Praetorian Swordsmen Officer & Standard
Ancestral Guardian

Nothing really out of the ordinary here, in my opinion.  I'm trying to run the Arcuarii in every list for a bit to see how I like the feel of them.

Rob's list:
Supreme Kommandant Irusk
* Demolisher
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts)
* Greylord Escort
Great Bears of Gallowswood
Kayazy Eliminators (Leader and Grunt)
Winter Guard Infantry (Leader and 9 Grunts)
* Winter Guard Infantry Officer & Standard
* 2 Winter Guard Infantry Rocketeers
Winter Guard Mortar Crew (Leader and Grunt)
Kovnik Jozef Grigorovich

Rob has had some success recently with this list against Ben (from Impact Hits).  He was certainly hoping to duplicate that success against me!

We rolled for scenario, and ended up with Overrun.  In this scenario there is a 36" x 8" rectangle in the middle of the table, and you are working on getting control points.  Pretty standard.

Rob won the roll-off, and elected to go second.  The control area had forest on both the left and the right sides, with not much terrain down the middle.  I deployed my Swordsmen with the Ancestral Guardian on the right, and everything else on the left.

My first turn was just a basic advance.  Most things ran, to get into position.  The Krea advanced and used it's animus, and most of the army on my left hunkered around it.  I threw Savagery on Makeda and Defender's Ward on the Gladiator.

Rob had his Winter Guard, the Demolisher, and the Kayazy Eliminators run on the right, staying just out of the control zone.  The Doom Reavers and Great Bears ran up on my left, with the Doom Reavers entering the control point forest.  Irusk cast Fire for Effect on the Mortar, which advances, and Tactical Supremacy on the Demolisher, which got a few extra bits of movement.

I run my Swordsmen into the woods on my left, trying to keep them safe and able to contest the control area should things go bad.  I move Makeda forward into the control area to get her control zone into place, pops her feat, and casts Carnage, while moving the Krea, Gladiator, and Arcuarii around her.  Molik Karn charges the single Doom Reaver he can see in the forest in the left, and after some side-steps and swings, kills 4 of the Doom Reavers.

Now we're fully engaged, and Rob starts the shooting off.  He starts with a Mortar shot at Makeda, but deviates well past her, killing two Paingiver Beast Handlers.  Rob spends a few minutes deciding whether to send the Demolisher charging into Makeda, but after some deliberation, realizes he's definitely out of range.  The Doom Reavers take chunks out of Molik Karn, and are helped by 2 of the Great Bears who move in to support.  They don't fully kill him though (almost!).  The Winter Guard move up, get into position, and try a CRA at Makeda, which ends up as a POW 18 attack.  The 9 damage is transferred to the Basilisk.  Irusk moves to the left, and pops his feat (not realizing he's pretty far out of range for certain of my guys).  The Demolisher decides to start shooting at Makeda, but the Krea's animus keeps her safe, and the scatters end up killing a Swordsmen.

After some quick checking, we find out that the only models of mine that the feat affected were about 3 Swordsmen, who don't need the extra distance to reach his Winter Guard.  Poor Rob was a bit displeased about this- he mentioned later that Irusk's positioning with the feat cost him the game (for what it's worth, I agree).

I start my third turn off by upkeeping Defender's Ward on the Gladiator, advancing Makeda pretty far, and once again casting Carnage.  Molik Karn goes on a rampage after getting healed some, killing all the Great Bears and Doom Reavers (poor tough rolls by Rob).  The Arcuarii kill 3 Winter Guard, which clears a path for my Gladiator to charge into the Demolisher, doing some moderate damage (my rolls here were pretty poor).  My Swordsmen end up killing another 3 of the Winter Guard. 

We're pretty tied up here, but I"m definitely winning the attrition war at this point.

Rob decides to go for a pretty ballsy move, and casts Artifice of Deviation on top of the Gladiator, allowing the Demolisher to charge through him into Makeda.  He first drops a Mortar on top of the Krea, but doesn't get a whole lot of damage out of it.  The Demolisher charges, but the rolls don't happen to go in Rob's favor, and the 2 attacks that end up hitting Makeda are transferred to the Basilisk, killing it.  The Winter Guard turn their attention to the pesky Swordsmen, and end up killing all but one. 

Fully stuck in, I hammer the Demolisher with the Arcuarii, and Makeda finishes it off (and casts Defender's Ward on herself).  Molik Karn gets healed up some, and slowly moves to rejoin the battle.  The Ancestral Guardian and the Gladiator kill almost all of the Winter Guard.  Rob is running really low on guys!

Rob again decides to go for broke.  The Mortar takes a shot at Makeda, hits, but can't do any damage.  Irusk Battle Lust's the Eliminators, who rush in, hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, none of their 4 attacks hits Makeda, and Rob decides to concede, tired of the ineptitude of his underlings.

So, another hard-fought win for the Skorne.  We talked a bit, and I just don't think the Demolisher works with Irusk.  I thought that maybe a Destroyer will be better, and Rob had some ideas himself.  He also thought about switching in Fenris for some more offensive punch.  I guess we'll see!