Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Break your Allies, Crush your Enemies

Last time we looked at the Extoller Soulward, my current favorite two point solo in Skorne.  It's great at fixing problems that you don't have other outs to.  Now, let's think about a model that's much more Skorne than that whimp in a dress, a man so manly no shirt could contain those pects: the Mortithurge Willbreaker.  He doesn't bring you the ability to do much of anything you couldn't do already in your list, but he makes you do whatever you already do much better. He's got no weapons, he uses magic and he's got one of the most kick-ass names out there, but why is he a good piece to bring in your list?  Read the rest to find out.

The willbreaker comes with one static ability and three star actions.  There's not much opportunity cost to using any of the star actions as he has no weapons and can't make any attacks of his own.  This guy is Skorne, right?  Flavorwise, the willbreaker falls into the paingiver cast that captures the warbeasts for the Skorne and bends them to the lash.  His static ability, Beastmaster, allows him to force friendly warbeasts in his command range (9" from his base) as if he were the controlling warlock.

While I haven't tried it personally, it's possible for him to work with a paingiver beast handler unit to effectively run a beast on a flank outside of your warlock's control area.  Why does he need the beast handlers?  While he can force the beast outside your warlock's control area, the warlock can't leach the fury from that beast and you risk the beast frenzying.  That's where the beast handlers come in, their Condition ability allows them to add or remove any number of fury points from a single beast.  The beast activates, the willbreaker allows him to be forced to perform better, maybe using his star actions on the beast first, then the beast handlers "cool off" the beast by removing the fury the beast generated during its activation.

I think I found a movie for Trooper
What would the willbreaker contribute to your army except extending threat ranges and maybe running a wide flank when he has no weapons?  Well that depends on what type of army you're fighting.  If you're looking to splat something that has sufficiently high armor or defense that it's unlikely that you'd be unable to hit without boosting or say you only really care about hitting on one attack roll, he can help.  His first star action Puppet Master can be placed on a friendly or enemy model/unit and it allows you to re-roll one or more of the dice on a single roll.  Warbeasts can perform power attacks, e.g. headbutts, slams, that can radically change a situation.  A headbutt deals damage and knocks down the victim if they're hit, making them Def 5 against ranged attacks and automatically hit in melee  Slamming one model into another knocks both down and damages both, more if they're the same size base.  So if you need to knock down a high defense model, throw puppet strings on that beast to make sure you hit.

I did say you can throw it on a unit, so how does that work?  You get to re-roll or force your opponent to re-roll any one roll.  If you've got Terrifying models, you can throw Puppet Master up on an enemy unit, then get the terrifying model into 2" to force a command check and then force your opponent to re-roll if they pass the check.  It's not as potent as it would be in 40k as your opponent's unit must run and cannot run forward, but they can run 0".  However that does take their entire activation, so you can take a unit out of the game for a while.  Now, on your own units is where this really shines.  Skorne culture is all about the military and skorne know how to work together, as evidenced by the many units with the Combined Melee Attack or Combined Ranged Attack rules.  A CRA or CMA works by first picking a number of models in range of a single target, then all but one of them forfeit their attacks to give the other model in their "pod" a bonus to hit and damage equal to the number of models in the pod.  So, if you need to land a shot on an extremely hard to hit target or really crank the damage roll, Puppet Strings allows you to re-roll one or more of those dice.

Now we come to the red-headed stepchild of the Willbreaker's abilities Influence.  You can force an enemy model to make an attack against something currently in its melee range.  It sounds really nice, but that assumes there is something in the enemy model's melee range that you want them to hit.  If your opponent has spaced his non-reach models out sufficiently, you won't be able to hit anything with this.  Though it would be hilarious to start a chain under pHexeris' feat that causes enemy models destroyed in his control area to become friendly undead solos that can advance and take a swing before being removed from play.  Influcence a dude to chop down another dude, that dude becomes yours, advances, chops down another dude and disappears, repeat until you fail to kill a model.  Also low defense, high MAT weapon masters like Cryx, Menoth, Trollbloods, and Skorne sometimes run en mass means pHexy has one of the best feats in faction.

And now the last star action: Ancillary Attack.  It's very simple, target friendly warbeast within 5" makes an extra attack, ignoring rate of fire.  There are good and bad sides to this.  Rate of Fire is a stat on ranged weapons that gives you a cap to the number of shots you can make with it during your activation.  Being able to ignore that cap, since it's out of activation, means you can get more work out of your few, but very potent, ranged beasts.  Most buff spells in skorne last for one turn or are upkeepable, so they last past the activation and can be used for ancillary attacks.  The downside is that because it's out of activation you can't choose to boost, but if a feat gives boosted rolls or an additional die, that still applies.  Most of Skorne's buffs focus on melee rather than range, so being a buff that can hit ranged beasts makes him part of the "holy ranged trinity" with the extoller and the cyclops raider.  Let's say you don't have to use Puppet Master to knock down that target, but your beast just couldn't quite finish it off, or it's just got so many damage boxes that you need to get one more shot in on it.  Well, I've got your extra attack right here.  The willbreaker doesn't quite have an attack of his own, but he effectively has the most useful beast's attack from five inches plus base size further away.

One last upside to the willbreaker, he has the Commander advantage.  This means that warrior models within his command range (command stat in inches from his base) can use his command stat (9 on a 10 point scale) rather than their own when making command tests.  All warlocks have this and a lot of skorne infantry are fearless, but when you need it, it's a nice upside to have and it comes on a model that you want to take to buff your beasts anyway.

So that's the willbreaker in a nutshell.  He's a solid, versatile model that allows you to play in whatever way you choose a bit better for a small two points.  He adds threat range to your beasts, especially with lower fury warlocks like Morghul and Xerxis, or he can make them hit harder/more.  If for some reason you're running beast light, he can make your infantry pretty reliable damage sources and keep them from running.  He's all-around solid and brings a lot to the table in ways different ways.  I'm a big fan of the willbreaker and want to see him on the table more.  Then again I want to see the table more, so there's that.  What do you think?

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