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Monday, March 5, 2012

List Building: pSkarre Theme List

Greetings ladies and gentlemen, it is Whitestar333 from Steam-Powered Gamer (it's been awhile, I know!) to bring you another list building session.  Today I wish to discuss an interesting warcaster who is often known for her Great Rack (it's the name of one of her weapons!).  That's right, today I wish to discuss Pirate Queen Skarre.  I know, I know, Cryx is dirty and they're no-good jerks.  In the Master's tournament at Templecon 5 of the 16 players brought Cryx armies to the tables.  Have no fear, however, as those dirty Cryx players didn't win this time, so I have no qualms introducing one of my favorite Cryxian theme lists today from the pages of No Quarter 37: Ships in the Night.

What makes this theme list fun and different from her previous one is simple: PIRATES!  In fact, I was shocked when I first saw the Cryx book released that neither of her normal theme lists heavily featured the Cryxian pirates - despite the fact that she's the Pirate Queen Skarre!  That's all well-and-good now, though, as this theme list allows her to take some fun stuff.  Let's break down the theme list first, and then we'll jump into some thoughts about what to take.

Tier 1 gives us the breakdown of what she is allowed to take:

Freebooter and Mariner warjacks (count as Cryx heavies), and non-character Privateer units, meaning Sea Dogs, Press Gangers, and Sea Dog Deck Guns - although I'm still not sure if Sea Dogs can take Mr. Walls, as he is a character unit attachment, so for this article I'll assume they cannot.  While the other tiers are okay, we certainly want to get up to Tier 4 to get us a 1-point discount on Privateer units!  This is potentially huge as pSkarre wants to take lots of infantry anyway, and being able to take 10 Press Gangers for 5 points makes me giddy.  Before we decide exactly what we will be taking, let's look at what Skarre offers the force itself.

In the case of pSkarre, I actually look first at her feat: she can suffer up to 5 points of damage, and for each point of damage suffered, friendly faction models in her control area gain +1 STR and +1 ARM.  Whoa, that’s a pretty substantial feat!  This is where her theme list is pretty strong – the privateer models count as friendly faction models while taken in the theme list, meaning they can benefit from her feat!  Not only that, but her feat is an extremely impressive feat, offering not only an ARM buff (better than what can be granted by most warcasters, mind you), but ALSO a STR buff!  Sure, she has to suffer some damage, but the benefits far outweigh the small price she pays.  This feat means that for that one turn, her infantry will be quite capable of wrecking entire warjacks with ease, as +5 STR takes most infantry weapons into the realm of the P+S of heavy warjacks and warbeasts.

Okay so what about her spell list?  At first it seems relatively unimpressive, but there are a couple of spells that stick out.  The first is the unique spell Ritual Sacrifice that allows Skarre to remove one of her friendly warrior models from play and during her next control phase, she gains D6 extra focus points.  While this is fairly unreliable, it’s a decent price to pay if you take an abundance of cheap infantry (we’ll get to that later).  This means that she can effectively rocket a warjack forward with some extra focus, should she need to.  Another potentially powerful spell that she has is an offensive upkeep Backlash – which means that everytime the targeted warjack is damaged by an attack, its controller suffers one damage point.  While hardly devastating, it can be significant to soften warcasters which camp a lot of focus, but this is only useful against Warmachine – not Hordes.  Lastly, Skarre has Dark Guidance – a very powerful spell that gives friendly faction models an additional die on their melee attack rolls in her control area, but is quite expensive at 4 focus.  If we remember Ritual Sacrifice, however, it is possible for her to cast this spell if she really needs to (like on her feat turn), and still be able to allocate a focus or two to a key warjack.

Okay so what should Skarre be taking?  We should definitely try to max out on infantry models, for sure.  Her abilities multiply quite quickly with lots of bodies, as well as feed some of her other spells and powers.  Fortunately, Tier 4 of her theme list gives us the wonderful benefit of reducing the point cost of Sea Dog units by 1 point, which can allow us to take lots of models cheaply!  More infantry also means that her feat will go much further as 30 models at +5 STR and +5 ARM is quite scary and difficult to dislodge!  As for warjack selection, she’ll want warjacks which are fairly efficient and capable of doing some damage without needing lots of focus, as she’ll want to save it for Dark Guidance.  Ritual Sacrifice can help a bit, but there’s always a chance that you’ll only get 1 extra focus point, so it’s not reliable.

Although often maligned in favor of the Nomad, I think
the Freebooter will be great with Skarre
The theme list is already pretty limiting about what she can take, but there are a couple warjacks of interest here.  The Freebooter is a welcome addition for Skarre, as a bodyguard since he can synergize well with Skarre’s knockdown on her Great Rack (hehehe, snort) and grants her protection from being knocked-down if she’s in B2B.  Other warjacks of interest include the Scavenger and the Stalker.  With Skarre having so many bodies on the field, both of these warjacks will be a great boon for her.  First, the Scavenger might not seem terribly impressive, but benefiting from +5 STR and +5 ARM will make the thing scary with Finisher, and with Flight it can comfortably sit behind a wall of bodies until it wants to strike down an enemy heavy warjack.  Similarly, the Stalkers have an extended control range, meaning they can stay 24” away from Skarre and still benefit from her feat and Dark Guidance!  These guys are quite comfortable sitting on the flank until Skarre  and her tons of infantry clear out enough of the enemy models for them to go in for the final kill, and with Greivous Wounds, these guys can also be great for dragging down warlocks or heavy warbeasts that you might not be able to take down in one turn.  Stalkers can sit on the flank and not get in the way of the rest of your force getting stuck-in - and that’s huge!

So let’s look at a sample 35 point list:
Pirate Queen Skarre (+6)
- Freebooter (6)
- Scavenger (4)
- Stalker (4)
- Stalker (4)
- Skarlock Thrall (2)
Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders (min, 6)
Press Gangers (full, 5)
Press Gangers (full, 5)
Sea Dog Crew (min, 4)
Sea Dog Deck Gun (1)

Cheap bodies!
So what are some interesting features about this list?  Let’s start with 32 warrior models in units – 20 of which are tough.  While there are many lists these days packing magical weapons for dealing with incorporeal, the reason why we’re using Blackbane’s raiders in this list is to allow them not to move through enemy models, but to sit back behind 20 Press Gangers and then move through our own models on feat turn to get where they need to be.  The full units of Press Gangers are brutal with Skarre, especially compared to the same price of Mechanithralls.  Press Gangers might not hit as hard, but they’re harder to kill (+1 DEF, tough) and her feat will make them scary enough anyway with gangShanghai is just the icing on top, allowing you to potentially beef up those Sea Dogs until you’re ready to unleash another wave of pirates.  Best of all is that Sea Dogs have point blank, meaning that they can benefit from the additional damage die from Dark Guidance on their pistols when they’re in melee!

Let’s also not forget our extra theme list benefits: Advance Move for Blackbane’s raiders and Advance Deploy for the Stalkers and Scavenger.  This essentially means that while you have a massive block of infantry, you’ll be able to spread them out during deployment, and more than half aren’t even deployed right away (Press Gangers have Advance Deploy!).  Not only do you bring a massive group of infantry and some flanking warjacks, but your enemy doesn’t even get to see where they’re going until it’s too late!   All told, this is a theme force which catches an opponent off-guard, takes the hits really well, and hits even harder back.  The biggest challenge, of course, is using it, but that’s where the fun is anyway, right?

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