Monday, 29 September 2014

High Command: Breaking the Skorne Enigma

(This blog post was written and meant to be posted in mid August, I apologize if any of what I'm saying is now obvious due to a tournament or similar article posted in-between. At the time I had written this article, Skorne were still considered the worse, second only to Menoth.)
(All pictures property of Privateer Press)

One thing I've noticed from old forum posts is that the Skorne and Menoth are considered the two worst factions in High Command...

Always having a soft spot for the underdog and having played Skorne in MK1 since their release until Metamorphosis, I couldn't resist the lure of trying to do something with them.
I built two decks, faced my little brother and came to the conclusion:

Skorne vs Circle of Orboros (or any other factions) is just not fair and Skorne 'seem' just bad.

Why were Skorne Bad?

-Low Power on most "original'' cards. Most cards, including the Bronzeback, had 2POW...Making for a very pillow-fisted army unable to get rid of multiple cards in one battle step. The problem with leaving enemy cards alive is that they tend to accumulate until they simply have enough power to wipe whatever you had at that location...and whatever you'll try to bring and eventually you'll simply be in no way to prevent them from capturing the location.

-Insane Rush Cost meaning fewer chances of capturing locations as you become more dependent on deploying troops. The problem with deploying troops is that your strategy stagnates: your reserves don't refresh themselves unless you discard cards, also instead of having new key pieces rushing straight into a hotspot, you have to wait until they show up when you draw cards which makes for a long term strategy but turns the Skorne into a very poor army when you need to react ''quickly''.
Another problem for the rushing vs deploying dilemna, rushing a card worth victory point will bring you a little closer to victory compared to deploying a card you already bought.

-Skorne cards are bad resource-wise: You have Angelius and other Gargantuans giving 3 of a specific resource but the Mammoth only gives 2WAR and 1COM...I find that ''2'' is a mediocre number as there is very few cards can deploy for ''2'' and ''2'' of any resources means that you'll have to discard two to three cards to deploy heavier stuff on the board. So three ''2'' resource cards and one threat, you are down to two cards in a regular hand of six...and unless that card can deploy for ''2'' or you have a rush cost of 4 you only deployed one thing...Not enough to capture a location and that thing is usually dead if it went to contest a location occupied by two or more enemy cards.

-Am I underestimating the Skorne light infantry? They only cost 2 to deploy but is it worth including in a deck? I, personally, don't think they're worth playing (except maybe the Venator Slingers) as they only produce resources of 1/1 at best when you'll draw them, they have absolutely no hitting power save used with specific warlocks and even worse...they have no staying power.
In a game where your opponent always has one turn to come and contest locations, having infantry with two life protect a location is tantamount to losing them and not capturing the location.
Their one advantage is that they are extremely easy to deploy but is that really an advantage? By discarding a ''2'' resource card to deploy them you are effectively losing two cards from your hands for very little offensive and staying power and in any other faction these two cards could produce 4 resources to rush something better.

My conclusion: designers decided to focus Skorne on synergies instead of giving them an obvious playstyle (ie: low rush costs (circle/legion) or ease of dropping large threats (all three other Hordes factions).
The problem with synergies is that you need multiple cards for them to work and it is too easy for an opponent to kill one (or both in Skorne's case) piece of the synergies making each parts worse than the non-synergistic stuff your opponent is fielding.

A Couple of Sneaky Cards That Could Pave Skorne's Way to Greatness

Maybe you noticed, but in the previous title was in the past. I think the recent expansions might have given Skorne a new hope.
Here's my decklist:

-Lord Assassin Morghoul (Green)
-Master Ascetic Naaresh (Orange)
-Supreme Archdomina Makeda (Red)

Detachment (Green)
-1x Paingiver's Lash
-1x Archdomina's Orders
-2x Paingiver Beasthandler Team
-2x Nihilator Ascetics
-1x Cataphract Incindiarii
-3x Tyrant Rhadeim
-2x Razor Worm

Detachment (Orange)
-1x Paingiver's Lash
-2x Beast Mastery
-3x Razor Worm
-3x Cyclops Brute
-3x Molik Karn

Detachment (Red)
-1x Path to Glory
-1x Paingiver's Lash
-1x Archdomina's Orders
-3x Cataphract Incindiarii
-2x Bronzeback Titan
-2x Molik Karn
-2x Tiberion

About the Deck:
In this deck, I tried to get the highest POW possible on my cards and the lowest possible RUSH cost.
There is 8 Resource cards to help and get a good economy going.

-Paingivers Beasthandler Team:
A low purchase, a low rush and two war when used as a resource. Combine with that the fact that it can count as a ''3POW'' if there is a friendly beast at the location and this makes it one of the rare 'Core Set' cards in this deck.

-Nihilator Ascetics:
Again a low purchase and an affordable rush, two command when used as a resource. The ''3POW'' makes it as deadly as the Paingivers Beasthandler Team but without the need of a friendly warbeast at the location. Their one flaw is the ''Berserk'' skill but I find them quite useful most of the time.

-Cataphract Incidiarii:
Medium purchase and still an affordable rush (compared to the purchase cost), give two command when used as a resource. They gain power for each friendly warrior card at their location, usually bringing them to ''3POW'' and gain in resiliency with 4 health.
Bonus: they bring 1VP when purchased/rushed.

-Tyrant Rhadeim:
Medium purchase and still an affordable rush (compared to the purchase cost), is a little disappointing when it comes to resource (only 1 of each) and is a character. You will most often simply want to rush this guy to avoid drawing him in a hand of resources. He brings very good hitting power with his 'armor piercing' ability and also nets you 1VP when purchased/rushed.

-Razor Worm:
Very low purchase of three and very affordable rush of four for a beast. It has a main drawback of having to bounce in your hand if an enemy died at its location. I find this drawback to be interesting since the wurm is worth 2WAR as a resource and as such can allow for a bigger next turn (ie: rushing a Molik Karn).

-Cyclop Brute:
Medium purchase of four and annoying rush cost of 7. This beast bring mostly a good health, the fact that it is a 2WAR resource and a little bit of POW if Molik Karn happens to rush to its location.

-Molik Karn:
King of the show: High purchase of 6 and decent rush of 8, this heavy hitter can bring 4POW to any location AND boost your other cyclops by +2POW, he also nets you 2VP when bought and can be used as a 2WAR resource. Definitely one of the best Skorne cards simply for its POW on par with most Colossals/Gargantuans.

-Bronzeback Titan:
High Purchase of 6 and decent rush of 8. The Bronzeback is a little more interesting to purchase rather than rush simply for its 'Hyper Aggressive' ability reducing by 1WAR its deploy cost. It sadly lacks hitting power and mostly brings a good health and 2VP.

High Purchase of 6 and horrible rush cost of 10. Tiberion brings good hitting power with a POW of 3, good staying power with its 7 health and adds to that a power that prevents it from being moved or bounced back to your hand. As if this wasn't enough, Tiberion is also worth 2VP.

There you have it, a Skorne deck that can hit hard (Molik, Tiberion, Incidiarii, Nihilators) and has overall enough affordable deploy/rush cost that if you bank properly it is not rare you will deploy and rush two to three cards a turn...a feat considering we are talking about Skorne!
This is the only deck that could beat my little brother's Circle of Orboros deck that went undefeated 5 times in a row last week.

Comments and critics are always appreciated!

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