Saturday, April 27, 2013

Battle Report: Makeda 3 vs. Vindictus at 35pts

I got another game in with Makeda 3 this past Friday to celebrate the model being released.  I ran:

Makeda and the Exalted Court (+2)
*Molik Karn (11)
*Bronzeback Titan (10)
*Titan Gladiator (8)
*Cyclops Savage (5)

4 Paingiver Beast Handlers (2)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)

This is a small, but fast list which can hit hard, and focuses on synergy with Makeda 3.  Makeda 3 really gets a lot from having the Molik Karn + Bronzeback + Gladiator combo in the list.  She's a front line Warlock with a lot of ways to move around the board, so she likes a Gladiator so her Warbeasts can keep up.  She really wants a Bronzeback, because the Train Wreck animus gives any beast the ability to munch its way through whole units of infantry on her Feat turn.  And she really wants Karn for 2 reasons.  First, with Side Step, Mat 7, Future Sight, and Reach, Molik Karn is the best Warbeast in Skorne to take advantage of Makeda 3's Feat.  He can get where he needs to be, and kill nearly anything without much trouble.  Second, he gives Makeda access to Fate Walker.  A Warlock who wants to dive into the middle of an enemy list, killing everything in her path (and helping her army kill stuff with Vortex of Destruction), benefits a lot from having end of turn movement like that.

As for the rest of the list, I decided to play aggressively, and went for a Savage and Swamp Gobbers.  The Savage is no Molik, but it's got Reach and Future Sight, and I won't mind sacrificing it if I need an early jam.  Besides, the guy is fully painted, and loads of fun to throw at the enemy.  The Gobbers are point filler.  I have no idea how helpful they'll be, but Makeda can probably get back to their cloud if she really tries to.

My list's big weaknesses are high Def, and an opponent who can play the trading game better than it can.  The only model in the list who can really put the boots to Iron Fleshed Kayazy is Makeda with her spells.  Both Molik and the Bronzeback can boost their attacks and hope for 12's, but only Makeda has ways to hit them automatically.  The list is also kind of a glass cannon.  Apart from the Savage, each beast adds a lot to the way the list functions.  If the enemy eliminates one, the list might not be able to deal with the loss.

My opponent, Ted, played:

Vice Scrutator Vindictus (+6)
*Judicator (18)
*Reckoner (8)

10 Holy Zealots (6)
*Monolith Bearer (2)
4 Choir of Menoth (2)

Knight Exemplar Seneschal (2)
Vassal of Menoth (2)
Vassal Mechanik (1)

Menoth would be bringing some solid shooting from the Reckoner and Judicator, as well as a nasty jamming force in the Zealots.  I don't have much experience against Vindictus and his tricks.  He makes infantry a lot faster with True Path, and a great defensive spell in Defender's Ward.  He's also got some versatile offense in Rift and Immolation.  Overall, it seems like a well balanced list with no major blind spots.  The heavy hitting is consolidated in the 'jacks, but there are two, and they won't be going down easily if they stay behind the line of zealots most of the game.


I won the roll off, and chose to go first.  We both had a pretty good terrain setup, with walls and forests surrounding the middle of the battlefield.

I deployed the beasts in a line about 10" across in the center of my deployment zone, with Makeda, the Guardians, and the Gobber Team interspersed to provide support.  The Paingivers went behind the beasts.

Ted deployed Vindictus, both 'jacks and their support about 10" or so in front of a low wall in the center-right of the table, and put the Zealots and Seneschal in the center opposite my battle line.

Turn 1

I decided to move ahead fast.  The Gladiator Rushed itself and Trampled forward, Makeda cast Vortex of Destruction, Rushed the Bronzeback, and charged at the Menites, angling for a wall, while her Guardians ran.  The rest of the army simply ran, forming a rough line an inch or two ahead of the Gladiator.  The Gobbers advanced, and puffed out a smoke cloud.

Vindictus allocated a Focus to each 'jack.  Both the Judicator and the Reckoner ran.  Vindictus advanced, cast True Path, and cast Defender's Ward on the Judicator.  The Choir and Vassals advanced to keep pace with the 'jacks, and the Zealots and Seneschal blitzed up the field with the True Path-boosted speed.

Turn 2: Skorne

Zealots are fast with Vindictus.  I had to do something about them immediately, or I'd be badly jammed next turn while they used their mini-Feat to become immune to damage.  Time to put Makeda's anti-Infantry game to work.

Makeda activated first, Feated, cast Train Wreck on Molik, then charged a Zealot.  She killed it, and cast a free Eliminator with Blood Boon at the Seneschal.  She knocked the Seneshal down, but didn't take out either the Monolith Bearer or the other Zealot the template had clipped.  The Gladiator Rushed the Bronzeback, and advanced.  The Paingivers Conditioned the Gladiator, and Enraged both Molik and the Savage.  Molik charged into the Zealots, and bounced through their unit to kill off all but 3 ordinary Zealots.  Thanks to Makeda's Feat, he could also cast Fate Walker on himself to retreat a little.  The Bronzeback advanced, and the Savage charged at one of the surviving Zealots, but wasn't in range.  The Gobbers ran to try to keep up.

I'd done a lot of damage, and seriously put Ted on the back foot with the Feat.  Without the Zealots, it would be his 'jacks against an army which is very well equipped to kill them.  Ted did have the wall he'd put his 'jacks and Vindictus behind, however, and if he could take out my Gladiator - my source of Pathfinder - he could make it very complicated for me to get to him.

Turn 2: Menoth

Vindictus upkept Defender's Ward, and gave out most of his Focus.  The Seneschal got up, and walked to engage Molik.  The Choir sang the Hymn of Battle at the two 'jacks.  The Reckoner aimed, and put a nasty hit on the Gladiator.  The Judicator also aimed, and hit the Gladiator with both rocket pods, hurting it severely.  It couldn't quite reach the Gladiator with its flamethrowers, but did manage to incinerate a Zealot who happened to be in the way.  The Vassal used Ancillary Attack on the Reckoner, but it left the Gladiator at 2 boxes.  A Zealot advanced to try to finish the job, but walked into Counter-Charge range of the Bronzeback, and died.

The Gladiator was still up, and that meant I still had ways to deal with terrain.  I'd have to try to finish the game here though, and I thought I had a chance.

Turn 3: Skorne

Makeda upkept Vortex of Destruction.  Molik had to take a Frenzy check, but he was fine.  The Paingivers advanced, Medicated the Gladiator, healing 3 damage, and Enraged the Bronzeback.  Then the Gladiator advanced, and Rushed the Bronzeback.  Makeda advanced, and boosted an Eliminator at the Vassal, but missed and killed two Choir members instead, causing them to flee.  Then she advanced 4" to the Seneschal and the last remaining Zealot.  She cut down the Zealot, and cast a free Eliminator at the Seneschal, disabling him.

Then the Bronzeback charged the Reckoner, casting Train Wreck on itself before resolving the charge attack.  It hit the Reckoner with the charge attack, killed the Vassal with its Tusk attack, then punched the Reckoner again.  I chose to advance into Vindictus rather than do Chain Attack: Grab and Smash on the Reckoner.  I was able to get one fully boosted attack into Vindictus, leaving him at 4 hit boxes.  On the plus side, I'd taken out the Reckoner's Cortex and Mace with my attacks.

I finished up by advancing around the Seneschal with Molik (putting him on a hill), advancing the Savage, and running the Swamp Gobbers.

Turn 3: Menoth

The Seneschal finally died.  Vindictus let Defender's Ward drop from the Judicator: he had a new target in mind (himself), then gave the Judicator a Focus.  The Choir rallied.  The Judicator advanced, and did a Double-Handed Throw Power Attack on the Bronzeback, hurling it into Molik Karn and knocking them both down.  Then Vindictus cast Defender's Ward on himself, retreated a bit, and cast Rift on the Bronzeback, damaging it and locking both it a Molik Karn in Rough Terrain.  The Reckoner hit the Gladiator again, but without the Hymn of Battle or any extra Focus, wasn't able to kill it.

It would take a couple turns for me to extract Molik and the Bronzeback from the mess they were in, and the Gladiator was pretty far from the action, so Vindictus had bought himself some time.  I'd have to use my functional models to keep the pressure up, and prevent Vindictus from repositioning to a safer location.

Turn 4: Skorne

I upkept Vortex of Destruction again.  The Bronzeback Frenzied, but could only get up (and wasn't facing Molik when it did).  Makeda had line-of-sight to a Choir member, cast Fate Walker, and charged it, hoping to put herself in melee range of the Reckoner.  She was just out.  The Paingivers advanced, Medicated the Gladiator, and Enraged the Savage.  The Savage hopped the wall, and charged the Reckoner, taking out everything except a few boxes and its Movement.  The Gobbers ran.  Molik walked around the Bronzeback's side to draw a bead on Vindictus.  Makeda used her Fate Walker move to back off.

Vindictus was boxed in pretty well, and Engaged by the Savage.  The only other functional combat model was the Judicator.  We'd have to see how this played out.

Turn 4: Menoth

Vindictus allocated no Focus, but upkept Defender's Ward.  The Choir used Hymn of Battle on the Judicator, which aimed, and put some more damage on the Bronzeback, as well as a little on the Savage with its Flamethrowers.  The Reckoner missed the Savage.  Vindictus boosted another Rift at the Bronzeback, hitting, and popping some more rough terrain up around it.

It was a valiant attempt, but I'd probably be able to get around it with Rush since the Gladiator was still alive.  More importantly, Vindictus was in Makeda's threat range.

Turn 5: Skorne

Makeda upkept Vortex of Destruction, then charged Vindictus, and cut him down.

Victory to the Skorne!


That was an amazingly fun game.  Makeda 3 is quickly becoming one of my favorite Warlocks.  I made a bunch of mistakes, but they were generally pretty small.  I should have kept Makeda's court near the Gladiator to protect it, especially after it almost died on turn 2.  I also should have taken the Grab and Smash attack against the Reckoner with the Bronzeback, and maybe even stuck around to finish it off.  I was just too focused on getting to Vindictus, and left it more or less functional.  Popping Makeda's Feat early was a good move.  If those Zealots had been able to tie me up, I would have been pounded by Ted's shooting game, and stuck in the middle.  In general, I used the beasts pretty well, keeping them out of harm's way while threatening the slower Menoth list after turn 2.

This may well be my go-to 35pt list for Makeda 3.  It's super fun to play, and very mobile.  Makeda has a lot of extra movement she can pull personally, especially with Molik on the table.  Between Fate Walker and Eliminator, she managed to be almost wherever I wanted her.  Molik's Side-Step and Beat Back shenanigans on top of Fate Walker make him even more agile than Makeda, and the rest of the list is fast, solid and hard-hitting.  I may swap a Shaman in for the Savage for more versatility and defense against offensive upkeeps.  I may also swap both the Savage and Gobbers out for a Krea or Drake and an Agonizer or Willbreaker.  I'm currently liking the Drake/Willbreaker combo, which will give me a great spray and all the utility of the Willbreaker.  I will lose the jamming and melee threat of the Savage though.

Ted played a solid game, but he was at a serious disadvantage from the top of Turn 2 onward when I killed almost all his Zealots before they could mini-Feat and jam me.  It was a bind for him, since using their mini-Feat on turn 1 might have saved them then, but they wouldn't have been able to jam me nearly as well after that.  Taking out the Gladiator with shooting was a good plan, but the dice just weren't with him, and one or two sub-average damage rolls meant it stayed alive.

The Vindictus list was very new to me, and the Judicator seems like a dangerous model, especially backed by a Vassal and the Hymn of Battle.  Zealots are definitely great for their cost with the Monolith Bearer, and the Exemplar Seneschal would have been downright scary if I'd let him stay on his feet.  Any kind of Smite is very dangerous, and the Seneschal hits very hard at Pow 13 (often thanks to Righteous Fury).

Thanks for a great game!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Battle Report: Supreme Aptimus Zaal vs. Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls at 50pts

I got another game in with Caleb this week, and here's how it went down.

I tried out Zaal again for the first time in a long time, and went with:

Supreme Aptimus Zaal (+5)
These guys...
*Titan Cannoneer (9)
*Cyclops Shaman (5)
*Cyclops Raider (5)
*Aptimus Marketh (3)
*Kovass (-)

10 Praetorian Swordsmen (6)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
10 Immortals (8)

Hakaar the Destroyer (4)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Ancestral Guardian (3)
Extoller Soulward (2)
Extoller Soulward (2)

This is a Tier 3 Immortal Host list, meaning that I get increased Field Allowance on Ancestral Guardians and Extoller Soulwards for each unit of Immortals in the list, Ancestral Guardians in the list gain Advance Deploy, and Extoller models in the list begin the game with 3 Soul Tokens each.

This looks like a pretty strong list to me.  Zaal is a good infantry warlock, and can let nearly anything in the list take out enemy heavies or high-Def infantry thanks to Last Stand.  This means I can focus on a cheap selection of ranged and support beasts.  The Raider and Shaman are a good firebase on their own, and hand out Far Strike to the Extollers and Zaal, which gives me up to 4 shots, range 12-14, which ignore Cover, Concealment and LoS.  With Guidance, I can forfeit one or two of them to ignore Stealth.  The Cannoneer is there for the higher Pow shot and AoE.  In terms of infantry, the Praetorians and Immortals are both workhorses, though the Praetorians also provide Soul Tokens.

My list's main weakness is Zaal's vulnerability to Remove From Play effects (which seriously cramp his Feat and Soul generation from the Praetorians), and a slight weakness to super high Arm.  Zaal can mitigate that with Hex Blast, but even then the highest Arm models in the game will be tough for my infantry to take out even with Last Stand and Rage of the Ancients.

Caleb tried out pDoomshaper again after a long break to learn Calandra and pGrimm.

Hoarluk Doomshaper, Shaman of the Gnarls (+7)
*Rok (11)
...vs. him.
*Dire Troll Mauler (9)
*Troll Axer (6)
*Rune Bearer (2)

10 Trollkin Scattergunners (8)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
3 Trollkin Champions (6)
*Skaldi Bonehammer (3)
Kriel Stone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4)
*Stone Scribe Elder (1)

Janissa Stonetide (3)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2)

This seems like a pretty well balanced list.  The Scattergunners give it a decent ranged game, and their normally mediocre accuracy can be boosted by Fortune.  Rok and the Mauler are both good heavy beasts, and the Axer provides Rush and another answer to infantry.  Champions are hard-hitting and fairly tough, and should do well alongside the beasts as melee support for the low-Mat Scattergunners.  Troll support is good as always.  Janissa will make sure Doomy's poor Def isn't too much of a liability, and the Chronicler will make sure any infantry who kill the Scattergunners gets knocked down.

There are no major blind spots in this list, although it does rely on a relatively small number of models to do all its hard-hitting (the Beasts and Champs).  Otherwise, it deals with all kinds of enemies pretty well, clears jams well with the Scattergunners, and threatens all kinds of targets.


Caleb won the roll-off and decided to go second.

I placed all my infantry in a line across the table with Swordsmen on the left and Immortals on the right.  Zaal and the Warbeasts deployed centrally in gaps I'd left for them on the front lines.  The Extollers and Marketh went just behind the infantry.

Caleb placed his Scattergunners opposite my Swordsmen despite the fact that this meant putting them in front of a forest with no way to gain Pathfinder.  The Champs and Beasts went opposite Zaal and my warbeasts, leaning a little to the right toward the bulk of my Immortals.  The support and Doomshaper went behind this group.

Finally, I deployed all my Ancestral Guardians in a staggered line 6" ahead of my other troops, with Hakaar more or less in front of Zaal.

Turn 1

Most of my models ran, although Zaal walked in order to cast spells.  Last Stand went on my lead Ancestral Guardian, while Inviolable Resolve went on Hakaar and Spiritual Awakening went on the Shaman.

Most of Caleb's army also ran, though Doomshaper walked up so he could cast Fortune on the Scattergunners (who were having a little trouble with the woods), and dump the rest of his Fury onto the Kriel Stone.

Next turn, I'd be in range to do some damage and slow Caleb down.

Turn 2, Skorne

It was time to start getting down to business.  The Swordsmen ran and spread out to jam up the Scattergunners.  The Immortals ran forward again.  The Shaman put Far Strike on itself, and shot at Rok, but missed.  Zaal put Far Strike on the Cannoneer, who killed a Scattergunner and made their Officer pass a Tough check.  Marketh swapped Last Stand onto an Ancestral Guardian who looked to have charge range on Rok.  It charged, damaging Rok pretty heavily.  My lead Ancestral Guardian then charged the Champions, killing one.  I ended my turn by popping out the Kovass.

I really would have like to kill Rok, but I realized it wasn't likely.  Now Caleb would have to deal with both my AG and the Kovass though, and my second wave of infantry was right behind them.

Turn 2, Trollbloods

Caleb activated the Champs, who killed the Ancestral Guardian after taking some damage to a Defensive Strike.  Then he advanced the Kriel Stone, and the Elder caused all Kovasses in its Warding bubble to lose Incorporeal.  The Axer advanced, and put Rush on Rok to give him +2" of movment.  The Mauler advanced, and killed the Kovass.  Then Rok charged into the Immortals.  He Berserked through 3 of them, a Soulward, and Hakaar, using Doomshaper's Goad ability to reach new targets as he cleared out the old ones.  I put the Kovass back into play.  The Scattergunners killed just over half the Swordsmen with their sprays.  The Chronicler used Hero's Tragedy, making sure my Swordsmen would fall over when they tried to exact revenge.  Finally, Doomshaper walked up and cast Stranglehold at my last Ancestral Guardian, ensuring it would make no attacks next turn.

Not bad.  Caleb had done a good chunk of damage to my army on his turn, but enough had survived that I'd be able to mount a decent counterattack.  And now was the time to make things happen.  I might be able to assassinate Doomshaper if I could clear out the Beasts screening him.

Turn 3, Skorne

In the Maintenance Phase, my surviving Immortals contracted around Rok like a terrible obsidian jellyfish, and killed him with Vengeance attacks.  Zaal went first, used his Feat, Rage of the Ancients, then he cast Last Stand on the Kovass, and shot at a damaged Champion, finishing it off.  The Kovass charged into Skaldi and the Mauler, but Skaldi passed his Tough check, and the Mauler managed to survive with 2 hit boxes, meaning I'd have to shoot the Mauler down if I wanted to get my Immortals to Doomshaper.  The Shaman tried for it, but ended up killing the Kovass instead.  Excellent!  Now I wouldn't suffer the penalty for shooting into melee with my other beasts.  The Cannoneer advanced, and finished the Mauler with a cannon shot.

Then Marketh recast Last Stand on the Immortals, and they charged in.  I only thought that one could get to Doomshaper, but I was hoping to one-shot him.  Three others charged the Axer, one charged Skaldi, and one charged the last surviving Champion.  Skaldi died, but the Champ passed his Tough check.  The Axer barely survived due to one really awful attack roll, but Doomshaper had to kill it with a transfer on my last attack, which took him down to 3 hit points.  The Swordsmen finished up the turn by killing about half the Scattergunners, then falling over due to Hero's Tragedy.  The Raider put Far Strike on the remaining Soulward, and she tried to finish Doomie, but missed due to the melee penalty.  Then I removed all the Immortals because they made melee attacks under Last Stand.

Assassination failed, but all the Trollkin beasts were dead, and Doomshaper didn't have much army left.

Turn 3, Trollbloods

Caleb figured he had one shot at victory.  Plan C.  If Janissa scored a critical hit against Zaal with Rock Hammer, he'd be knocked down, and Doomshaper and the Scattergunners could finish him off with spells and sprays.

It was all on Janissa.

She missed.

Zaal did get damaged by a Stranglehold, but that was it, and Caleb conceded after his Scattergunners all missed.


I had a pretty solid overall advance, but I made a lot of little mistakes, mostly in order of activation.  On turn one, I ran all my AG's out of range for my Immortals to gain Resonance.  On turns 2 and 3, I ended up charging with critical models before shooting with my Extollers and beasts, which made some attacks much harder than they should have been.  I clearly need more practice playing Skorne infantry and solo heavy the way Zaal likes.  It also turns out that I could have gotten 2 Immortals to Doomshaper on my 3rd turn, and probably killed him right there.  I was maybe a quarter inch in range with one of the ones I sent after the Axer.

Zaal is brutal, and loads of fun to play.  He has a great spell list, and the Kovass adds another layer of planning.  I liked the list I went with a lot.  I think I made the right decision going with a few ranged beasts.  The infantry and AG's had no trouble killing Trollkin heavies and Champions under the Kriel Stone's Warding bubble, so I'm probably fine on armor cracking without melee heavies.  The shooting I did have was plenty effective at doing damage to a few key models, and would have been a lot more effective if I'd planned my turns better.  Finally, I never felt like I was about to run out of beasts or open spots between my beasts and AG's for transfers.  I did feel like I ran out of AG's pretty quickly though, and I might have to try a more extreme version of Immortal Host next time, one with 4 or even 5 Ancestral Guardians plus Hakaar.  I'll also have to try Zaal out of tier some time so I can get Molik Karn, who seems like a crazy model to combine with Last Stand and/or Rage of the Ancients.

Caleb made some good moves, but also made a few serious mistakes.  He targeted my AG's specifically, since they're very dangerous under Zaal.  Hitting my last one with Stranglehold made my third turn a lot more complicated than it would have been otherwise.  Putting the Scattergunners behind the forest without a Fell Caller or similar source of Pathfinder made them very slow on the first 2 turns, and they were a little bit out of the battle later on.  As a screening unit, they would have been more dangerous, and helped keep Caleb's heavier models out of reach of my Immortals and AG's on turns 2 and 3.

I don't quite know what to make of pDoomie yet, and Caleb said after the game that he doesn't either.  I've heard a lot of good things about his Tier list, and maybe that's just the way to play him.  It's possible that he just didn't have the best tools to deal with the Zaal army I took.  All my beasts were way in the back, so Rampager wasn't a factor, and Doomshaper didn't get the chance to Feat.  Inviolable Resolve and Spiritual Awakening never really seemed worth casting Purification for.  I did like Fortune on the Scattergunners, and Stranglehold on an AG was a good move, but that's really all Doomie did this game.

Thoughts on Project Obsidian

Now I've played Ancestral Guardians at their most optimal, and Zaal really made them go.  Last Stand is a great spell for them, and their ability to buy additional attacks makes them deadly with Zaal's Feat.  The biggest thing Zaal does for them, though, is give them Soul Tokens with Soul Converter.  I never once felt low on Souls in the army.  Ancestral Guardians would easily be worth 3pts with anyone if they could be full on Souls for 2-3 turns in a row, and Zaal really lets them do that, especially in Tier with Extoller Soulwards starting with 3 Souls each.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Trials of the Mountain King, part 1: Flanks, Distraction, and Attrition

I'm still torn on what to call my new focus on pDoomshaper and Gunnbjorn -- Doombjorn is winning, but Gunnshaper isn't quite out of the running. Gunndoom, Doomgunn and Bjornshaper just sound silly and were knocked out after the first round. Shoot'n'Scoot would be more appropriate with eDoomshaper and Gunny, Gunns&Doom sounds like the title to a bad '80s cop drama.... well, needless to say the nicknames are a bit endless. I'll just declare Doombjorn the winner and move on.


Just look at this majestic bastard!

(I didn't paint this one)

Gander at that devilishly handsome grin!

The gorgeous modeling!

The massive scale!

He is terrifying to behold!

Awe inspiring to comprehend!

So, his rules suck. Lets just get that out of the way right now - the model is fantastic, the fluff is amazing, and the rules... well, the rules for this guy came straight from the crapper of a poorly sanitized truck stop bathroom on burrito night. In Nebraska.

'But Caleb', you say, 'it can't really be that bad'. No no, my poor innocent friend, let me assure you - I've spent 8 solid hours driving across Nebraska (twice, in the same week, alone, in Summer, and on my birthday no less), and let me tell you - I do not use that analogy lightly. Words cannot properly describe the massive let down this majestic specimen of troll-hood brings for his rules. This magnificent embodiment of all that is Dire and Troll-y brings a set of abilities so counter to his awesomeness that the closest analogy would be if the Statue of Liberty ceased to represent liberty and instead came to symbolized smelly toenail fungus.

However, screw that. This guy is $125 of awesome modely goodness, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let him languish on the shelf next to that poorly-thought-out unit of Assault Kommandos (stupid impulse buy...). Much like the humble Dire Troll Blitzer and oft' disparaged Trollkin Scattergunners, the Mountain King can be made to work just as well as any other troll model - all it takes is a bit of thought, some trial and error, and finding him the right niche.

Luckily, I just started using 2 warlocks that can get more out of him than the bulk of Trollkin warlocks. First, however, let's break down the Mountain King's mojo and see what we have to work with.

The Breakdown:

Stats - STR 15, ARM 19, and SPD 5 are the high points here - the strength is about at a level to make him a deft hand (or double hand. Heh, puns...) at throws and STR based power attacks; ARM 19 is better than 18 (the normal troll staple) and can be easily boosted to an annoyance-worthy 21; and decent speed means he'll be able to keep up with the rest of your army just fine.

Fury 5 is nice as well (I'm sure not taking it for granted), and a Threshold of 6 just takes the uncertainty away from a potential frenzy (come on, the thing spawns whelps like dandruff - if he's even taking a threshold check, you're doing something wrong or you're facing Mohsar -- and shame on you for not planning ahead). DEF 9 is DEF 9 - not gonna win any awards, but what do you expect from a troll the size of an actual barn?

That's where it starts going downhill fast -- MAT 5/RAT 5 truly is the Mountain King's major stumbling block; his Achilles heel, his tragic flaw, the Moriarty to his Holmes, the worm in his otherwise golden apple, etc, etc. For all his potentially ludicrous damage output, he's going to first have to actually hit something. For something this big that costs a whopping 20pts, there really is no reasonable excuse for anything below MAT 6 - Privateer Press screwed the pooch. Royally. But, like a midlife crisis and a sports car, this is something we can compensate for.

Abilities - he's no Mammoth (see previous chatter, aka Mammoth-envy), but he did at least get some toys from the toy box before the other Gargantua ran off with them.
 - Kill Shot: pretty straightforward - kill/snack on something in melee, get a free ranged attack. This is a nice ability that frees him up to focus on melee every turn, as he'll get the 10" spray fairly easy regardless. Plus, once you get stuck in, he can get an aiming bonus against models not in melee with him if he stays put.
 - Snacking: this and Sweep can be a pretty nasty combo - box a living model, heal d3 damage, deny souls/corpse tokens, repeat. This again runs into the issue of having to actually hit the enemy model, but whatever.
 - Whelp Shedding: ever feel like you have too many whelps? Me neither, and this guy brings them to the table in droves. Trying to nickel-and-dime him to death (say, with Praetorian Swordsmen) now becomes a horrendously bad idea, as it will quickly flood the table around him with more bits of troll than a stabscotch tournament at a Pygmy beer festival. This is the Mountain King's signature ability, and will force the enemy to throw this biggest, baddest thing (or things) they can at him to kill him in one turn rather than cry like babies as he heals halfway up to full from a half dozen little snacks.

Attacks - Here's where they let out most/all of the stops. The MK's damage output is truly inspired, and given the gruesome level of attacks he can put out (spray, sweep, 5 fury, etc), pretty damn dangerous.
 - Big Meaty Fists: POW 19 is amazing. POW 19 open fists are even better, but pretty much all the gargantuas and colossals have open fists so meh. This is lessened quite a bit when you consider that Mulg has the same P&S already, can make almost as many straight attacks with it, and costs 8 pts less, but whatever. What Mulg doesn't have is....
 - Deathly Roar: Spray 10 and POW 16. This thing is bonkers, and a good chunk of the Mountain King's effectiveness is tied up in it. Barring bad rolls, Kill Shot means there's no reason this shouldn't be used every turn once the big lug is engaged.

Animus - Amuck is... well, it is. At first glance, it seems pretty cool - it'll make the big guy pretty deadly with sweep attacks, the Axer even more deadly with his Thresher, and give Troll Heavies some serious threat on tramples, as in all cases you're effectively boosting all the attack rolls with 1 fury. The drawbacks become apparent when you realize what the Mountain King can't do with it -- namely, use sweep on a charge or trample effectively itself.

The animus isn't great, but at least it has it's uses (limited though they may be) and it's downsides -- the most noteworthy of which is that you don't take a 20pt beast as a support model. Beyond that it's a very lackluster animus better served on something like a Circle light beast--- oh, wait.

The Lists

Enough pointless brain smacking, lets get down to the lists. pDoomshaper and Gunnbjorn are two of the best warlocks in Trollbloods (barring pMadrak and eDoomshaper) for getting the most out of the Mountain King, and I'll elaborate as I go.

pDoomshaper 50pts
Hoarluk Doomshaper (*7pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Earthborn Dire Troll (10pts)
* Mountain King (20pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Kriel Warriors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* 2 Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2pts)
* Kriel Warrior Standard Bearer & Piper (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

What pDoomy Brings: Fortune, Purification, Banishing Ward, Rampager  -- the first handily helps solve the MAT/RAT 5 issue; the second and third make certain he won't be slowed down by enemy spells; and the the fourth provides both a handy way to position enemy models to his advantage and a rather interesting way of getting rid of the Bane of all Gargantua, Gorman de Wolfe.

This list is pretty straightforward - the EBDT's animus, combined with Janissa's wall and the KSB, boosts the Mountain King up to ARM 23. Combined with a strategic placement of the wall and the Mountain King's generic gargantuan-style immobility, this provides one hell of an anchor to a flank, and allows the Kriel Warriors, Cabers, and Earthborn to swing around the other flank while the squishies (Janissa, KSBs, pDoomy, and Runebearer) hid behind the utterly massive immovable base and wall. The Pyre is there to boost the EBDT's damage, provide Immunity: Fire against those sneaky Legion games, and toss out an AoE to light things on fire (you know, as one does). Banishing Ward on the Kriel Warriors will keep them going through just about anything, though I see the lack of pathfinder to be a bit of an issue for them. We'll see how big of one.

Gunnbjorn 50pts
Captain Gunnbjorn (*5pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Mountain King (20pts)
* Ršk (11pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes (3pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)

What Gunnbjorn Brings: Guided Fire. Yup, that's it, just a single spell. However, that spell makes the POW 16 Spray 10 downright stupidly deadly.

Combine Guided Fire with, say, Rok's animus (Primal) and the Mountain King becomes the murderous mountain of death and destruction we always knew he should have been to begin with. Gunny and the rest are basically just there to watch, chow on whelp popcorn, and toss out ranged attacks to clear the way while the Mountain King and Rok kill, maim, destroy, snack, and spray their way across the table. Pop Gunny's feat at the end, and you're forcing the enemy to deal with the two big nasty beasts in their midst before they can even think of taking out the ranged backup sitting behind cover, a wall, and immunity to blasts and laughing like fools.

The downside of this tactic is that the MK will Frenzy next turn (if he lives through the retaliation), but that's less important than you think. If the enemy ignores him for a turn and tries to kill the rest, he'll be left around to beat the shenanigans out of them, and if they instead try and bring him down first, it lets the ranged element get another turn or more of highly damaging bombs, spears, and explosive shells in. That's right - the huge, terrifying, frenzied, foaming-at-the-mouth mountain monster is the distraction.

The bulk of this list was inspired by a list over at Trollblood Scrum, and while Janissa and a runebearer would be a nice addition, I'm more interested in seeing how Bushwacker backup helps out.

So, there you have it - two lists that use the Mountain King. They don't look much like any other 50pt trollblood list, and for good reason: a 20pt model leave a pretty big footprint (hehe, puns) no matter which way you throw it. I'll be trying them out in the next few weeks to get a good feel for 'em. Battle Reports to follow!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Battle Report: Lord Arcanist Ossyan vs Cassius the Oathkeeper at 35pts

I got a couple more games in with Retribution last Friday, and here is one of them.  Enjoy!  Once again, I don't remember my opponent's name, so I apologize :P

Lord Arcanist Ossyan (+6)
*Banshee (10)
*Manticore (8)

10 Dawnguard Invictors (10)
*Officer and Standard Bearer (2)
10 Mage Hunter Strike Force (8)
*Strike Force Commander (2)

Arcanist (1)

My opponent's list:

Cassius the Oathkeeper (+6)
*Wurwood (-)
*Megalith (11)
*Warp Wolf Stalker (10)

6 Tharn Ravagers (9)
*Tharn Ravager Chieftain (2)
Shifting Stones (2)
*Stone Keeper (1)
Swamp Gobber Bellows Crew (1)

Tharn Ravager Whitemane (3)
Gallows Grove (1)
Gallows Grove (1)

My opponent won the roll off, and went first.  During regular deployment, he deployed Cassius, Megalith, and the Whitemane in a little cluster in the center of his deployment zone.  I deployed everything except the Mage Hunters opposite him, ready to take advantage of whatever cover showed itself.

During his advance deploy, he placed the Stones in a large triangle with Wurmwood in the middle.  The Gallows Groves went on either side.  The Tharn Ravagers deployed on my left, opposite my Invictors.  Then I set up the Mage Hunters to counter his Ravagers.  Ravager defensive stats aren't naturally great, and Mage Hunters can ignore just about every buff they can get.

Turn 1

All the circle models ran except the Shifting Stones, who teleported Wurmwood 8" toward the center of the field, and Cassius, who cast Unseen Path to get himself and Wurmwood even further up, then Feated, creating a 10" radius forest centered on Wurmwood.  The whole Circle army was now screened from most of my shooting.

Ossyan advanced, put Admonition on the Banshee and Quicken on the Manticore.  The Banshee and Invictors ran.  The Mage Hunters advanced, and did as much damage as they could to the Ravagers, which turned out to be about 4pts of damage to one of them.  :(  The Manticore advanced about 8", and put a Covering Fire template in front of some of the Ravagers.  It would be enough to damage one or two of them, but it wouldn't be a serious deterrent.

Turn 2

The Ravagers charged in at the Mage Hunters, killing about half of them, and engaged the Manticore.  The Stalker ran to a flanking position to get to my heavies.  The rest of Cassius' army moved up in support.  Megalith cast Curse of Shadows at a Mage Hunter, but missed.

I allocated a bunch of Focus to the Manticore.  Ossyan advanced, Feated to give my guns an extra damage die, and shot a Ravager, killing it.  The Mage Hunters did some more damage to the other Ravagers.  The Invictors used Extent Fire, and took down Megalith.  The Banshee advanced attacked the Ravagers engaging the Manticore, but rolled very badly, and didn't un-engage it.  The Manticore mananged to un-engage itself, but ended up sitting on 2 Focus it wouldn't use.

Turn 3

The Ravagers killed off all but 3 of my Mage Hunters, then the Whitemane charged through them at my bunched up Invictors.  I'd forgotten about Tactician, and there was a very good chance he could munch through all my Invictors this turn.  He rolled snake-eyes on his initial attack. :(  On my opponent's behalf.  Cassius fired Stranglehold at the Manticore, forcing it to forfeit its movement or action next turn, and cast Curse of Shadows on the Banshee to reduce its Arm.  The Warpwolf charged and destroyed the Banshee.

My Invictors had survived, which was good because I really needed them to kill the Warpwolf.  The Mage Hunters swatted at the Ravagers engaging them, doing a little more damage.  The Manticore walked into melee with the Warpwolf Stalker, and sat there looking pleased with itself.  I needed to clear off the Whitemane so my Invictors could charge, so Ossyan charged and killed him.  The Invictors charged in and killed the Warpwolf (thanks to Flank) and most of the remaining Ravagers.

Turn 4

With limited resources, my opponent decided to try for a spell assassination.  Cassius got a casting line on Ossyan, but didn't roll well.  He at least managed to land one stranglehold, so Ossyan's options would be limited.

It looked like the game was in the bag.  I allocated three Focus to the Manticore, cleared off the last of the Tharn, and shot everything else at Cassius - yet failed to take him down! D:

Turn 5

My opponent was pretty surprised to have lived through that, and didn't waste it.  A shifting stone popped up next to Ossyan, and Cassius hit it with Hellmouth, which dragged Ossyan to his death.

Victory to the Circle!


Luck was all over the place this game, but my opponent definitely outplayed me.  My biggest mistake was forgetting about Tactician on the Whitemane.  I didn't try to neutralize it on turn 2 because it didn't have any charge angles.  It was a huge lucky break that it missed with its first attack.  If it had managed to chomp through even half my Invictors, I would have had no answer to the Stalker, and I would more or less have lost right there.  I also handled the 'jacks a little badly, and I didn't space my Mage Hunters properly on turn 1 - I misjudged the size of gaps I needed, and the Ravagers were able to get to the second line.  I think that overall, I played in Skorne mode too.  I was a little too willing to get my 'jacks into melee, and a little too willing to go head to head rather than maneuvering and shooting a little more.

I'll definitely be trying this list again, but I might just go back to min Mage Hunters, another Arcanist, and a Phoenix in place of the Manticore.  I really felt like the Phoenix added a lot to my army's adaptability when I played it.  The Manticore did have more shots, but I wasn't using them very well.  This was partly because I failed to free it up with the Banshee, but the Manticore is very focus-hungry.

My opponent didn't make many big mistakes.  He knew both our armies well (he also plays Ret), and was able to exploit my weaknesses consistently.  He almost cut me out of the game entirely with he Whitemane (he needed anything but snake eyes to hit with that charge attack, though he was looking at 4's afterward).  He did leave Cassius exposed on his fourth turn, although I'd pulled ahead in the attrition game and he didn't have much else left.  I ended up having my turn of bad luck then, though, so it worked out.

The Cassius list was cool, and very different from what Caleb was running when he played Circle.  If I were running it, I'd be worried about the low model count.  Tharn are not durable, and there were only two beasts.  Even though my opponent got the jump on me, I managed to pull ahead in attrition.  Still the list seemed to work well as a unit, and my opponent handled it well.  At 50pts, it probably adds the edge it needs to make up for its relative fragility.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Trollblood Update: New Warlocks, New Lists

I've been playing primarily Calandra and pGrim almost since I started Trollbloods, and I'm fairly comfortable with them both. In an effort to spice things up, I'm switching to two new warlocks to focus on for the time being. Since I've been doing a lot of trading for used models, I've got a few different options -- pGrissel, pDoomshaper, and Gunnbjorn are all model's I now have, and I'm quite interested in eGrim and eDoomshaper. I'm going to put eDoomy on the backburner for now: he looks like a hell of a lot of fun, and I have a plan to start using him eventually, but I'll have to buy at least 1 more heavy beast than I've got to run him properly. This gives for an interesting pool to pick from, and I'm going to narrow it down further by style and choose 1 warlock from each:

Shooting: Gunnbjorn vs eGrim.

Gunnbjorn is intensely geared towards shooting: his feat and spells make him a great warlock to sit back and annoy the enemy with disposable tarpits while picking them apart with shooting. I don't have much experience with eGrim, but everything he's got (be it spells, feat, or Muggs/Krump's weapons) points towards a solid gunline setup with some later game melee to mop things up. They both work well with Bushwackers (probably my favorite faction unit).

I'll start with Gunnbjorn on shooting - mainly because I actually have the model, and won't need to buy it. With my new acquisition of Kriel Warriors, it also gives me a better unit than Fennblades to jam with (Fenns hit harder from farther, but Kriel warriors will stick around longer, which is what I want with Gunny).

Brawling: pDoomshaper vs pGrissel

They will both need an aggressive playstyle with their army, though they are both back-/mid-field warlocks themselves. Grissel likes to get the alpha-strike to take advantage of her feat, fell calls, and calamity; while pDoomshaper will want to jam the enemy and then mess with opponents through hard-countering spells and focus/fury, all while messing with the opponent's beasts and upkeeps with his spells.

Picking a brawler is a bit more difficult: on the one hand, pGrissel works with a lot of infantry, and I've got 4 units (Kriel Warriors, Fennblades, Scattergunners, and Champions) that will mesh well to fantastically with her, as will the Warders when they come out. The downside is that her feat is a large part of what makes her good, the focus on infantry means I'll be taking fewer beasts, and I'll need to try very hard not to fall into the "too-many-models" trap. pDoomshaper, on the other hand, needs a much more varied army: he likes him his beasts (Goad, Fury 7), but doesn't neglect infantry (Banishing Ward and Fortune), and his feat and spells mess with the enemy (thus benefiting them both -- maybe beasts a bit more). The main downside is that he's squishy as all hell, doesn't synergize that well with himself (great upkeep spells and ability + spell that kills all upkeeps = counter intuitive), and his feat can be hit-or-miss against infantry based or long range shooting armies, or against certain warcasters/warlocks.

I'm going to go with pDoomshaper because he'll work well with Scattergunners (yay), he seems a better matchup with Gunnbjorn, and they can both run the Mountain King (who I need to get more use out of anyway).

Now we get to the meat of it - what lists to start out with? If you haven't figured it out already, I like making a standard list to play with each specific warlock, playtest/modify it into effectiveness, and then tweak it as little as possible until I'm more used to the warlock's playstyle. For the moment, I'll make 2 lists for each Warlock - a 35pt and a 50pt.

35pt Gunnbjorn List
Captain Gunnbjorn (*5pts)
* Slag Troll (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Kriel Warriors (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* 2 Kriel Warrior Caber Thrower (2pts)
* Kriel Warrior Standard Bearer & Piper (2pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 5 Grunts) (5pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

The Kriel Warriors are there to jam like crazy and give the Bushwackers, beasts, and Gunny time and room to shoot anyone who gets through them. I chose an SSC over a fell caller to help them jam better rather than hit harder, and the Runebearer seems like a given with Gunny. Once the Sorcerer comes out, I'm thinking it might be good to drop the Slag to a Pyre to fit him in.

50pt Gunnbjorn List
Captain Gunnbjorn (*5pts)
* Pyre Troll (5pts)
* Slag Troll (6pts)
* Troll Impaler (5pts)
* Dire Troll Bomber (10pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 3 Stone Scribes (3pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Pyg Bushwackers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 4 Grunts) (10pts)
* Skaldi Bonehammer (3pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

At 50pts, I need more heavy hitters, so I'm tossing in Champions. They're a fairly independent unit that won't require much from Gunny, have a high enough ARM/hit boxes to pretty much ignore blasts (or make a good target for Bomb Shelter, the Bomber's animus), and can swing their way through most enemy units, especially with Skaldi's benefits. I'll try the list with Kriel Warriors as well in order to see which is the better option.

The Pyre is a bit of a connundrum for me -- I want another beast to benefit from Guided Fire, and the Pyre's animus and continuous-fire AoE are nice things to have vs Legion and infantry (respectively), however it's a bit overkill with the Slag (who benefits from Gunny's spells more with rof 2 and a valid target for Explosivo, and is murder vs warmachine and circle). Plus, for 5 points I could really gear up for slams with a 2nd Impaler or cover some holes in the list with Janissa and whelps. Trial and Error and a little time will tell with this one, but it wouldn't hurt to have some of our avid readers weigh in on this (hint hint, there's a comment section below...).

I'm also considering dropping the Chronicler for whelps. I have a feeling Gunny is going to need them. The KSB I'm keeping at a min unit, as Gunny has too little fury and too many good spells/upkeeps to be able to fully power them up anyway. The Bushwackers are going to be a regular fixture with him, as Snipe is just too good for me not to take them in every list.

35pt pDoomshaper
Hoarluk Doomshaper (*7pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Rök (11pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
Trollkin Scattergunners (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Scattergunner Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

I love just about everything about Scattergunners - the models, the powerful spray attack damage, the awesome benefits and tactics the UA brings, virtually everything - except how they can't hit the broad side of a d@%& mammoth on a sunny day. What fixes this? Fortune. Fortune is AWESOME with Scattergunners! It lets them throw a freaking tsunami of dice across the table to make up for RAT (stinking) 5. They're also exactly what pDoomy wants in a melee unit - they utterly destroy light infantry spam.

The choice of Rök over Mulg is difficult; on the one hand, Mulg is amazingly deadly, and will kick the crap out of just about everything. However, his animus doesn't synergize well with pDoomshaper's feat and spell list, and he's a slowpoke (which ordinarily wouldn't matter, but I need a faster main beast here). Rök's animus, however, works well as a fury-management tool and gives a better chance to hit, which is what this list really needs. Berserk (with Goad!), assault, and a POW 14 spray will also make him particularly brutal against heavy infantry, which I see as being a problem for the list otherwise.

50pt pDoomshaper
Hoarluk Doomshaper (*7pts)
* Troll Axer (6pts)
* Dire Troll Mauler (9pts)
* Rök (11pts)
* Trollkin Runebearer (2pts)
Krielstone Bearer and 5 Stone Scribes (4pts)
* Krielstone Stone Scribe Elder (1pts)
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 2 Grunts) (6pts)
* Skaldi Bonehammer (3pts)
Trollkin Scattergunners (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Trollkin Scattergunner Officer & Drummer (2pts)
Janissa Stonetide (3pts)
Stone Scribe Chronicler (2pts)

The Runebearer and Janissa are there to help/protect Doomshaper, while the Champions + Skaldi just seem too good to pass up in this list, and make a great target for both Rage (Mauler's animus, +3 str) and Banishing Ward. The champs will also serve as a good second line to the Scattergunners, and I can throw them at heavy infantry, enemy light jacks/beasts, and anything the Scattergunners don't kill with a fair amount of confidence.

Once the Warders come out, I'm considering dropping the Champions for them. It will slow down the 2nd line a little, but it will give me an extra body, more armor, and free up a point for an upgrade somewhere. Plus, Warders look like they're able to brick up even better than Champions, letting me play the attrition game as well. The extra point might be well served upping the Mauler to an Earthborn, but it'll be a bit before I need to look into that.

So, here are my lists! I'll focus on pDoomy and Gunny for the time being, so I should have at least a couple of battle reports up after this weekend (if for no other reason than to forestall further skorne fanfic posts...). I'm also working on a post on using the Mountain King with Gunny and pDoomy - hey, I have the model, might as well get some use out of him...

Expect a battle report after this weekend, and a future post on the benefits/downsides and in-depth analysis of one of the greatest questions of our time -- Rök or Mulg?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

We chatter about Gargantuans

So we sat down and talked (via the internet) about the latest book release for Hordes, Gargantuans. Perhaps you're interested in our thoughts. Perhaps you want to discern just how rules-savvy we actually are. Perhaps you want to know how long I can go without swearing.

Part 1: in which we discuss Trolls, Circle, and Skorne (minus the Mammoth).

Part 2: in which we discuss the Mammoth, Legion, Minions, and a bit of fluff.

We kind of go on for a bit, so maybe you should get a snack before starting. Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 5, 2013


So given that none of us has posted a lot in the last few weeks, I'm going to start posting that Skorne Fanfic I wrote last November scene by scene (thanks for the idea Michael)!  I have about 10,000 or so words written right now, which is like, a fifth of a book.  Who knows, maybe I'll even finish it on the blog.

The point is, if there's less than a post a week from Caleb, Michael and me, I'll add something besides my current theorymachine obsession, and post a scene.

Anyway, to show you all that I am serious, here is the prologue.  Enjoy!


                The old skorne might have been sleeping.  His right eye was closed, his lips parted as he breathed in and out with slow regularity.  His stern shoulders and the harsh lines of his face were slack in intense relaxation.  Only his hands betrayed him, his long, bony fingers twisting and tugging among the gold braid on his sleeves.  And the crystal orb where his left eye had once been glittered slightly, giving an impression of distant, alien awareness, like the gaze of a snake.

                The skorne knelt in a rectangular room of dark stone.  Ornate weapons rested in alcoves along the walls.  Long tendrils of incense smoke rose from a burner at the skorne’s knees, disappearing into the shadowy haze of the ceiling.  He faced an obsidian statue of an armored skorne, its stone blade held before it in a ceremonial guard position.  Beneath the statue’s helmet, its carved eyes gleamed back at him.

                They were alone in the room.  Neither servant nor master would dare enter while they communed.

                Finally, the old skorne shuddered, and opened his eye.  He chanted an oath of fealty in archaic harvaati.  His voice was parched, but he croaked it out in full.  He ground out the incense, and bowed low, pressing his hands and brow to the floor.  As he did, the air in the room seemed to clear, and the shadows to withdraw.  The glitter in the statue’s eyes retreated, drawing away from the present world and its concerns.

                “Far be it from me to doubt your wisdom, exalted one” said the skorne.  “Disaster comes.”

                He said it aloud.  His mind was still too raw to hold words on its own just yet.  And he needed to hear a living voice.

                “And your namesake must survive.  The lady’s youngest.  But how will you fare, I wonder?  And how much help will you be to him?”

                This last was barely a murmur, and when he said it, the old skorne frowned.  The spirits of the ancestors did not give of themselves easily, and the eldest, like Vorkaas, risked madness and destruction when they did.  What came next would take all his skill, and all his cunning.

                The old skorne’s mind was his own again at last.  He went to the door, and pulled the bell cord to let the other servants know they could enter again.  They lacked the protection afforded by his caste, and if they failed to clean the shrine, they would be killed.  This duty discharged, the old skorne hurried out, his hands fretting at his sleeves.  There was much for him to do, and little time.

 If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to post them!