Why Play Skorne?
You don't care about subtlety and want to run up and pound people in the face. You may also like elephants.
The Skorne are a sadomasochistic empire of crazy people from beyond the eastern deserts invading the Iron Kingdoms for their own mysterious reasons. In addition to all sorts of soldiers the Skorne make use of six-limbed bipedal elephants called Titans, Cyclopses with a limited power to see the future, and animated statues.
Skorne aren't very fast but they can be very durable and they hit like a freight train. The list is an army of contradictions; you want to deliver your Titans, but they have speed four. You have some terrifying beasts, but your best beast warlocks don't have the fury to run a lot of them. Other armies have synergy, you have Skornergy, where two effects that do the same thing don't stack.
Build a brick, then throw it at your enemy. Keep your heavy-hitters alive long enough to tear into your foe.
- Lord Tyrant Hexeris: A Mortitheurge who sold his House to Morghul in exchange for a pardon when his Dominar betrayed Raelthorne. He doesn't have a lot of tricks for getting his army in close or cracking big models but when he gets there he can tear through infantry like a chainsaw.
- Lord Arbiter Hexeris: The gossipiest wizard in the Army of the Western Reaches. He has some more defensive tricks than his first incarnation but he still wants to be up close to the front debuffing and stabbing enemies.
- Archdomina Makeda: The big cheese of the Skorne army in the West. Every Makeda is a beatstick; this one gives Shield Guard out for an upkeep and her feat makes your opponent wast a ton of time just delaying you a turn. She's a little weak in MK3 just due to all the anti-infantry tech that's floating about, but can hold her own pretty well.
- Supreme Archdomina Makeda: Makeda after overthowing Raelthorne and taking the throne herself. She can get a combined-arms force up the field quickly and beat folks to death with lots of POW 14 melee attacks, or one POW 19 and several POW 14. Her feat makes everyone steady, which is nice, and they get boosted attack rolls, which is nice. Consider using a Willbreaker and some Swordsmen or Centurions for maximum benefit.
- Makeda and the Exalted Court: Queen of the Skorne after being formally crowned. The beatstickiest version of Makeda, she doesn't support her army much, but if her army supports her she can walk through the enemy into their caster. Her feat turns her into a non-nerfed E Madrak, considering that she gets Greivous Wounds and Overtake from one spell. Not QUITE as potent as Madrak, but definitely can be great.
- Void Seer Mordikaar: A dead Skorne wizard who walked his way back from the Void and made his body start working again. He's a squishy support caster; leave him away from the fighting and he can do interesting things but if he gets up close he will die quickly. Pay attention to his sidekick warbeast, the Despoiler; together they can really wreak havoc on caster warnouns.
- Master Tormentor Morghul: Raelthorne's top enforcer. He likes beasts a lot; Abuse is one of the best beast-support spells around, but he doesn't have a lot of Fury to work with so effective Fury management is essential to his force. He's made of tissue paper but he's also pretty hard to hit and steady this edition, which is nice. He's basically an Assassin focused caster with tech focused on burning through beasts and choking Warlocks of Fury.
- Lord Assassin Morghul: After Makeda's coup Morghul got her the allegiance of the Paingiver caste and she got him a new sword. The new Morghul hits like a ton of bricks with his POW 12 Weapon Master sword; from full Fury he can kill a heavy 'Beast/'Jack from full health on his own, avoid melee retaliation by Blinding his foes, and chew up infantry with Flashing Blade to attack everyone in his melee range. He can't take a hit any more than his first incarnation so keep him backed up and don't get into a fight with dedicated caster assassins. Also, don't cast Flesh Hooks. Ever. He doesn't have the fury to support it.
- Master Ascetic Naresh: The crazy sadomasochistic warlock; he's a crazy two-hundred-year-old monk. He gets stronger when he takes damage and heals when he kills things, keep him with his army in a front-line run. He's also got Lamentation, so, that's pretty nice. He can help shut down cast-happy jerks. Sadly, he's hindered by his average Fury count. Lamentation doesn't have the range to affect full spell-casters like Sevvy.
- Dominar Rasheth: Jabba the Hutt is a fatass amidst an anorexic nation who reclines on a couch carried by Agonizers whilst zapping folks. He's on a large base so he's hard to screen; he can channel spells through friendly Warriors but they take damage from the ability so he likes having multi-wound heavy infantry on the board. His feat and spell list runs lots of general buffs and debuffs that beasts and infantry can both take advantage of; he's a fairly versatile caster. Note, by the way, that he has absolutely no melee weapon and can't attack outside of spells, so he also cannot engage models.
- Tyrant Xerxis: Makeda's tactician-in-chief. He's a Tyrant, which means high Armour, a medium base, and Battle Plan; he's probably the best warlock to run a ranged list with, since he lets your infantry move and shoot through each other and has the defensive buffs to make an Immortal screen or Karax shieldwall pretty hard to get through. In MK3, Ferox love him because of the Defensive Ward and Rhaidem's dodge grant. Those cats can fly.
- Xerxis, Fury of Halaak: This is Warmachine, when your back gets broken you don't get put in a wheelchair, you get put on a rhinoceros. He works best with lots of warbeasts; he's brutally fast and makes your Titans fast enough to keep up, while increasing everyone's damage output to match.
- Lord Tyrant Zaadesh: Ho boy. Lord Tyrant Zaadesh is just Zaadesh on steroids. He loses some mobility, but gains screening clouds and his feat is absurd. He does little for defense outside of an Arm buff, but at least his feat gives his army some quick defensive strikes when they get engaged. Archidons are interesting tech with him, as are Scarab packs. Sac pawn and Flank make him one of the best beastick casters.
- Supreme Aptimus Zaal and Kovaas: An old mad scientist who does crazy things with the Ancestral Guardians. If an AG dies, the Kovaas (an incorporeal AG that gets souls from enemies instead of friendlies) pops out. Zaal's feat is better the more infantry he has; he likes large swarm armies with just enough beasts to keep his Fury up and Ancestral Guardians in support. His ability to spend a Fury to give souls to all his AGs mean you want to run as many AGs as you can. Sadly with the anti-infantry tech in MK 3, he may just not have the infantry left when he makes contact.
- Zaal, Ancestral Advocate: Zaal died and it didn't stick: he's back in walking statue form. He still likes hoovering up souls from infantry swarms, and still likes Ancestral Guardians - they, along with Zaal himself, are the best targets for his feat, though it also makes Immortals insultingly tough. He's slow and insultingly easy to hit, but hey! L
- Reptile Hound: A mediocre Animus and a bad melee attack tied to a body tougher than most two-point solos. Treat it like a suicide distraction missile to tie people up while the important things get close and it can contribute, or play it as a cheap Gang source with Zaadesh.
- Basilisk Drake: A weird model; it's got a magical spray in a melee-oriented army, an Animus that grants Bushwhack in an army where nobody really uses it, and generally uninspired melee. It takes some work to fit into a force - unless you're playing the wacky and e-popular Epic Xerxis list that fields at least six.
- Basilisk Krea: One of the best Animi around; if you can cover your shieldwall with it the enemy pretty much has to get into melee with you, and melee with Skorne is a bad place to be.Its a utility beast that fits in most anywhere.
- Cyclops Brute: The tanky Cyclops. You can force it to make the other guy reroll hits on you, which helps if you have defense buffs but less otherwise; everything else makes it a bodyguard beast to babysit your warlock and ensure nobody gets to him.
- Cyclops Raider: The shooty Cyclops. POW 12 and Burst Fire is okay, his Animus is good to have if you want to build a ranged army.
- Cyclops Savage: The choppy Cyclops. He can pick whether to boost attacks or damage after seeing the roll, which makes him very Fury-efficient; he can grant that to other beasts. A decent beatstick for his price and fair synergy with a variety of melee beasts; seldom a bad choice.
- Cyclops Shaman: The support Cyclops. He can use other beasts' Animi himself and extend your Warlock's spells' range; he doesn't hit very hard, but in larger games extra options for using good Animi can be pretty useful.
- Razor Worm: A baby sandworm. It's hard to shoot and easy to shoot over when concealed; it's cheap and can screen your units from charges.
- Archidon: Weird and situational, but if you have a way of granting it immunity to free strikes it's a fair assassination vector for a reasonable price. Its Animus is workable, though not a lot synergizes with it, and Critical Pitch lets you get the most out of charging the enemy caster by throwing him back towards your army.
- Rhinodon: Cheap for a heavy; it's an infantry thresher, nothing more. Its animus does almost nothing for any other beast but it's helpful on the Rhinodon.
- Titan Cannoneer: It's got the statline of a Titan but fewer damage boxes and it trades one high-POW melee attack for a (wait for it) cannon. Decent at range, its animus isn't impressive on it since you don't want to stick your artillery beast in melee but Xerxis or Makeda running around applying a Strength penalty to anyone who wants to hit them can be useful.
- Titan Gladiator: The king of slamming, plus one of the best Animi in Skorne. He comes in the battle box because he makes a slow army faster, which is enough to give him a place in almost every list.
- Titan Sentry: Tougher than the other Titans but doesn't hit quite so hard and has no open fists for power attacks. Tiberion does almost everything it does better, its Animus is the only exception. The ability to lock people into your melee range shuts down a lot of caster assassination vectors, so a Sentry is nice to have on some of your squishier casters.
- Bronzeback Titan: A rare alpha Titan that never appears in Skorne captivity and needs to be caught and tamed in the wild. Yes. It's durable, surprisingly fast on its own with Counter Charge and the Animus to grant Beat Back, makes a bunch of other models and beasts flat-out better by granting them Beat Back, higher Strength than other Titans, makes other Titans not Frenzy, and has a Chain Attack: Grab & Smash to boot on top having its tusks and gauntlets, meaning this thing will likely make three attacks on likely get a free power attack. Even tarpit units aren't likely to slow it down. Hands-down the best non-character warbeast in faction for all-round offensive power.
- Despoiler: Situationally powerful. Without Mordikaar all it really has going for it is Arcane Suppression, not really worth a ten-point beast with no offensive potential; with Mordikaar, you reduce the ARM of nearby enemies so he can kill stuff and the Void Spirits you put into play actually pull their weight. Crit Brutal Damage on the tail is pretty nice.
- Molik Karn: King of the Cyclopses. He's a heavy warbest with two Weapon Master (!) falchions with Reach; combine with Bronzeback Animus and Makeda3 feat and you can walk through enemy infantry like they weren't there. He has both Future Sight and Intuition on the same model, Fury 5 if near Makeda, Side Step for starting the rape chain and Fate Walker to finish it. Note that Fate Walker doesn't grant Sprint so if you have an Archidon you can make Molik Karn move twice after he attacks in melee. If you're a not WMH player, this stuff basically makes Molik Karn one of the strongest pieces in both games as he is incredibly consistent at hitting targets and swings for a bullshit amount of damage as well as being able to reposition a pretty decent distance afterwards. The joke with this guy is that your army and warlock is an attachment to him instead of the other way around. But makes sure you have support for him, on his own he can end up doing less damage than a Bronzeback and for a greater cost and lower survivability.
- Tiberion: A Sentry on all the steroids. Unlike the Sentry he has Shield Guard, his Animus means most people are only getting one attack in on him. His giant mace has POW 18 and slams the target on a critical. He never, ever moves outside his own activation, whether you want him to or not.
- Mammoth: One of the better Gargantuans, the Mammoth comes with three high-POW melee attacks instead of the two most colossals/gargantuans have, a POW-15 artillery battery shooting 4" blasts, Assault, and Critical Pitch on its tusks. The Animus is not game-winningly broken but at the same time a free attack during the enemy's turn with the weapons available isn't too shabby.
- Desert Hydra A debatable Gargantuan. It comes with five attacks - either 6" sprays or high-POW melee bites with Grievous Wounds - and can buy up to four more melee attacks. It can also trade in its five sprays for one 10" spray. It regenerates like a Dire Troll, snacks like a Dire Troll, and its animus shuts down enemy ranged attacks within a modest radius. All sounds good, but it has to be right up in your opponent's grill to do anything, whereas the Mammoth is contributing on the way in. Jury's out on whether it's worth the effort. It's also, apparently, a grade one bastard to manufacture, but PP assure us it will be out... eventually.
- Paingiver Beast Handlers: Yes. A support toolbox that makes warbeasts much better at a very reasonable price with some fury management on top of it. If you're running any melee beasts at all Beast Handlers are pretty important to your list.
- Paingiver Bloodrunners: A situational assassin unit. They can eat light infantry and solos but they don't do a lot of damage to anything else at their price.
- Cataphract Arcuarii: A weird unit; they're tough medium-based heavy infantry with harpoons that drag medium- or small-based people into melee with them, after which they can make melee attacks with POW 12 Weapon Master spears. They open up some strange shenanigans and have a surprisingly long threat range for a Skorne unit. Keep in mind that unlike most peoples' medium-based heavy infantry Cataphractii are unit size 4 for a minimum unit and 6 for a maximum unit instead of 3/5.
- Cataphract Cetratii: The basic Cataphractii. Better armor than their brethren and Shieldwall with POW 11 Weapon Master spears, but they're more expensive. A good screening unit that can do a fair bit of damage if they live through getting charged (with eight health and Armour 20 in Shieldwall they'd better), they work very well with Xerxis.
- Tyrant Vorkesh: A Character Cataphractii boss; he grants Spell Ward, which is a mixed blessing since you are immune to all sorts of enemy debuffs but at the same time you can't get Inviolable Resolve or Defender's Ward to make the unit even tougher. He also grants Precision Strike; if you're getting a charge off with your Cataphractii the ability to selectively knock out a warjack's arms or cortex can seriously cripple retaliation even if you don't kill it outright.
- Cataphract Incendiarii: The strangest Cataphractii; they all have AOE 3" Continuous Fire ranged attacks with CRA, but they lose Weapon Master to get them. Decent against horde forces but outperformed by both other Cataphractii units in melee.
- Immortals: Dead spirits bound into statues to bring them to life and send them out to hack people to bits. Good POW melee weapons with Reach, good ARM, and even decent MAT and DEF, they're slow but having an Ancestral Guardian nearby mitigates it. They're a centerpiece of a lot of bricks since they're Fearless and they can take a lot of punishment with Krea animus and Defender's Ward or Inviolable Resolve on them.
- Praetorian Ferox: The strangest cavalry unit around. They have Combat Rider, so they can make mount attacks even if they didn't charge, they're very fast with a Speed of 8 and Leap on top of that, and can't be knocked down; they're a threatening flanking unit but they're not a frontline heavy cavalry unit that can wreck armies alone.
- Praetorian Karax: A cheap tanking unit; they only have ARM 14 base but they have Shieldwall and they're in a faction with some pretty solid armour buffs. They don't suffer damage from blasts and they're among the cheapest large units; they have a spotty reputation since they can't kill all that much but they can take a punch very affordably.
- Praetorian Keltarii: A slightly less cheap skirmishing unit, competitively priced with Nihilators. Decent DEF, rising to good against ranged attacks, Reach on their single attack, and Parry plus Reform for skipping about in combat. They're very good at getting to places they shouldn't be able to go but not that great at doing damage when they get there. Rasheth loves them as volunteer arc nodes and a caster with Defender's Ward or Ashen Veil elevates their DEF to "excellent".
- Praetorian Swordsmen: Another cheap unit, this one designed to fight offensively; they don't have Reach, but they have two swords that can combo strike and they can deal one automatic damage instead of rolling damage against Warjacks and Warbeasts. If you can get them into the fight they can do some damage, but they don't have the defenses to get there unaided.
- Praetorian Swordsmen Officer and Standard: He contributes Side Step to the unit, which lets you run in, do some pummeling, and then move aside to let someone else whack the enemy in your place, and he grants Ranked Attacks to the unit. A pretty solid choice for an infantry-focused army that doesn't want to use Xerxis.
- Nihilators: Naresh's groupies, these fellows don't have much in the way of defensive stats but they have Fearless, Tough, and POW 12 Reach swords with Berserk. If you're fighting something you can kill you can kill all of it with these folks. More expensive than Praetorian Swordsmen and not quite so good when facing Warjacks/Warbeasts but better at fighting infantry.
- Tyrant Officer and Standard: A special backup unit that hangs out behind your infantry to buff them. Karax and Cetratii like the extra move before shield-wall, everyone likes Pathfinder if there's terrain around, and Reville makes auto-knockdown feats less damaging; the Standard's Fearless bubble is nice to have. The Tyrant does no more damage in melee than one Cetratii so keep him back to support your army instead.
- Venator Catapult Crew: An inaccurate high-POW blast with massive range, Arcing Fire, and an 8" minimum range. Keep it in the back, potentially cast Snipe on it from a Cyclops Raider, and you can lay down fair covering fire for a gunline Skorne army.
- Venator Flayer Cannon Crew: A shorter-ranged artillery piece with greater accuracy than the Catapult but lower Power. It doesn't ignore friendly models for line of sight so it works best if you're screening it with things that have Ranked Attacks or you're running Xerxis.
- Venator Reivers: Your riflemen. Unimpressive defensive stats and RAT but combined ranged attack and Burst Fire, best used with a screening unit with Ranked Attacks.
- Venator Reiver Officer and Standard: Grants Reform and has a mini-feat granting +4 range, the ability to shoot the enemy and end up 19" away almost certainly results in one more turn of shooting than you'd have otherwise, which makes him a pretty solid investment.
- Venator Slingers: A situational unit; inexpensive, terrifying against nonliving infantry, mediocre in most matchups. They have an extra die of damage with their ranged attacks against nonliving models but 3d6 at dice minus ten against a heavy warjack is still no damage on average rolls; they put corrosion on things but corrosion on a warjack is only doing one damage. They do a lot to infantry, less to big stuff.
- Agonizer: A Fury storage tank that can debuff nearby enemies. All its abilities mostly just force the enemy to root out the Agonizer and kill it first or accept that their warjacks and warbeasts are suddenly ineffective, the stored Fury is convenient if the enemy decides to pull Fury off your beasts.
- Ancestral Guardian: A beatstick solo that hits like a light warbeast. It's a construct that gets souls from friendly models that die in its command radius, and can spend them to buy attacks and boost to hit and damage with a POW 13 weapon and MAT 8; it's slow, but not overly so, and it's got Defensive Strike, which makes it work well in a defensive line loaded with armour buffs.
- Paingiver Bloodrunner Master Tormentor: A solo-hunting solo. He has Thresher and Anatomical Precision so he can chew up most infantry, with Advance Deployment, Pathfinder, and Stealth he can run around the flanks without worrying about getting too far from your army.
- Mortitheurge Willbreaker: A beast support solo. He can force beasts in his command radius even if they've escaped your warcaster; fairly convenient for Archidons under casters with small control areas, and he has several magic abilities that let him grant rerolls to a friendly, take control of enemy warriors and attack with them, and grant extra attacks to your warbeasts.
- Extoller Soulward: A support solo; he holds souls from friendly models and can move them to Ancestral Guardians. Convenient if more models die than you have Ancestral Guardians to hold the souls; it has a ranged attack that works better against Hordes armies than Warmachine armies and can grant Eyeless Sight and Magical Weapon to your gunbeasts.
- Paingiver Task Master: The reason Skorne does Gatormen better than Gatormen do. Minions in his command range cannot be knocked down and he can grant a Minion unit either +2Str or Fearless and Tough on his turn. If you're taking any Minions and you're not running the Taskmaster something's gone horribly wrong.
- Void Spirit: An Incorporeal Undead Abomination. The folk wisdom that boosted POW 12s kill casters is pretty relevant to him since he gets an extra damage die against living models, he exists to get around the edges and go for the throat. He can chew up infantry in a pinch since models he kills explode into a cloud effect that does fire damage to people in it.
- Aptimus Marketh: A fellow to make your caster more efficient. He can use one of your caster's spells once per turn, he can hold onto soul tokens, and he can spend souls to upkeep your caster's spells. If he's fighting someone something has gone horribly wrong but otherwise he's potentially five extra Fury. Keep in mind that Marketh's spells count as being cast by the original caster, which can lead to interesting situations like Marketh letting Makeda3 advance with Eliminator.
- Hakaar the Destroyer: He's an Ancestral Guardian only scarier; he has two POW 13 swords or a POW 18 Combo Strike, MAT 8, an extra ARM for every soul, and an ability that imitates Vengeance over his lesser brethren.
- Tyrant Rhadeim: A murderous dragoon riding a ferox, he gets the Combat Rider and Leap abilities from his cat. His POW 12 Armour Piercing attack is his primary selling point.
- Tyrant Zaadesh: Your Lesser Warlock. A fresh-faced lad with a broadsword larger than he is, he can move a Titan up the field quickly with Perdition or run several lights/lessers with pseudo-Gang on his battlegroup. He can't take much of a hit but he does have access to an ability that lets him hand off a ranged hit to another model in his battlegroup. Probably best run with a pair of lights or lessers and screened by friendly units.
- Siege Animantarax: A giant ankylosaurus with a gun platform. It has d3+1 shots with a POW 13 Reiver, gains Rage tokens it can use to boost
melee attacks with its tailany attack, thanks to the errata, and otherwise behaves like a typical aggressive murderous Skorne model.
Lots. Be sure to take a Taskmaster for every Minion unit and fun times will be had.