Toruk to Tyrant – Hardcore Edition (Diecon)

When I decided to write for  I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be as successful as I was last year, or just not play very well  all year. In 2011 I played Cryx all year, and managed to get 1st place at one event at AdeptiCon, 3rd at another event at DieCon,  and make  the WMW Invitational, as well as win a variety of local meta events. It was a good year with Cryx.  I would like to hope my articles are useful for skorne players and that I do well enough that my logic and strategies have some value to help others.

This year I had the misfortune of being ill at AdepiCon and either missed or/dropped most of the events, and just wasn’t up to playing my best in the few games I did play. It was a little frustrating, but there was not much to do about it.   I have won a few local events with my skorne, and I’ll discuss another one of those events in my June Recap.  These are just some of the thoughts I had as I attended DieCon.




Planning for Hardcore

I knew I was going to play Zaal for hardcore. The most common advice people give for Hardcore, is to play models you’re most familiar with. (you need to be able to complete your army in 7 minutes, or you’re going to have troubles)  I have played more games with Zaal then any warlock in Skorne.  I truly believe is he one of skorne’s most deadly warlocks and he fits my play style perfectly.

I also knew I would see some Stormwalls in Hardcore, as the model was just released and it is amazing.  I specifically had our local Cygnar Guru  and legend (Ben “rolling thunder” Risolve,) play some games with me leading up to this event.  We did a couple practice games and I really got a feel for how destructive the stormwall can be.

I also spent the week before the event reading the rules forums to make sure there wast any new crazy rule interaction I needed to be worry about from ‘gotcha” players.


Hardcore List

Supreme Aptimus Zaal

  • Kovass
  • Basilisk Krea
  • Bronzeback Titan
  • Molik Karn
  • Titan Gladiator
  • Aptimus Marketh
  • Agonizer
  • Hakaar the Destroyer
  • 6 Nihilators
  • 4 Paingiver Beast Handlers
  • 10 Venator Slingers


This list is a bit different from my standard Zaal lists. I added another heavy (Molik Karn) into the list for multiple reasons. I like the additional threat range he provides, as well as having multiple heavies that will help me deal with armies with multiple heavies including the possibility of multiple stormwalls. I did miss having an extoller in the list, and min Nihilators forced me to play a bit more careful with them as well.

Standard idea is slingers always out in front – Hakaar in the middle of the unit with +2 armor and typically full souls to get his ARM high enough. He has decent threat range due to Righteous Vengeance.  He can often kill  a heavy with just last stand cast on him.  Trading 1 heavy for that is a great start, because I then get an incoperal Kovass my opponent must deal with ASAP or suffer an even worse following turn.

The krea stays within 2 inches of bronzeback and Karn at all times.  Gladiator hangs back a little or threatens another vector depending on opponent lists.  Nihilators go on one of the two flanks depending on terrain. Agonizer usually stays within 2 inches of the Krea as well, just waiting for that important turn to save me the game.



Summary of Event

I’m going to refer to this more of a summary of games, then actual battle reports. I simply cannot recall enough details from all the games to do a good summary of each battle.


Round 1 vs Trolls (Grim) .

Opponent name/info – Randy from St Louis.    His list had Full Kriel warriors with full UA.  For Beasts I remember an Mauler/earthborn/impaler and at least 1 other, *(maybe bomber) fell caller. Cannot remember the rest.

This is one of the few games, where Hakaar never made it across the table, He was taking his time dealing with the kriel warrior unit along with my Nihilators.  I was able to take out the heavies in 1 turn with my heavies under zaals feat.  I do not believe Randy was prepared for the damage output that a Zaal list can really do.

Once this happened, I just worked my way thru what was left of his army to get to Grim. He actually survived a last standed Molik Karn by making Tough checks, but he was unable to do much on the following turn (he only had 3 fury), and I killed Grim with another model (not even sure which model did the killing)


Round 2 vs Cryx (Skarre1)

Opponent – 2liveistoDie otherwise known as Danny from KC. His list was 2 wraith engines, Nightmare, sea hag and unit. 2 unit of mechithralls, 1 unit 3 brutes. 2 necrosurgeons. (cannot remember the rest)

This was a pretty crazy game, Both of our armies hit hard, and fairly fast. He is able to bring back the mechithralls and his sea witch unit caused some issues early game, as he went raan them and went incorporeal.   I was able to keep my beasts protected enough while our armies ripped each other apart very well. I had to keep my bronzeback away from nightmare as it was his prey, and try to only allow as few models as possible to get to my beasts on the turn he feated.

One advantage I had was Zaal doesn’t let wrath engines get any souls.  His advantage was his sea witches RFP so models they killed I couldn’t use for my feat. That made some interesting positioning back and forth.  I was able to get ahead on models by mid game, and even as he moved in to score 1 CP I was able to get a last standed Molik Karn on Skarre to finish her off.


Round 3 vs Cryx (venethrax)

Opponent – Ray from Flint MI (list had full bloodgorgers, solo,malice,raiders + UA, + bane thralls + UA) cannot remember the rest
I advanced very aggressively on Ray Turn 1 and 2.  It was 2 melee armies and I had better threat ranges. I used agonizer to make sure that malice would not have any extra focus.   He ended up killboxing himself at bottom of Turn2. He didnt have anywhere to go to safely be out of Karns though range and just moved in error.

We handed in the score sheets, and played the game out.  He had enough models between him and Karn, that I couldn’t really go for the attempt on his caster. Instead I forced on engaging his army and reducing all his hard hitting models. I worked my thru most of his list, while my nihilators spent time focusing/dealing with bane thralls.  After his army was thinned out I managed to get a last standed bronzeback on his caster.


Round 4 vs Legion ( E Vayl)

Opponent – Alex from Springfield

Side-note –  I almost didn’t go to DieCon this year, and one of the things that convinced me to go, was hanging out with Alex, Charles and the other Sprinfield IL folks.  So I was very happy to be playing Alex in the 4th round of Hardcore. I fully expected to run into a E Vayl list at some point during this event, and I was lucky enough to get a good amount of practice games in against a similar list.

I wish I had better recall, as this was simply my most fun game/intense games of the event.  (Legion list was 2 angels, 1 scythian,  1 ravagor , legion BE,  bucket, legionaares sherpards and maybe a forsaken)

Early game was mostly a standoff, neither player willing to to engage beasts.  our troops sparred in the middle, while caster beats stayed 13 to 15 inches apart watching the carnage unfold.  One Key moment was when I was able to kill a ravagore with a last standed Hakaar.

Alex was able to get ahead of my on CP, which meant, he would just sit back, and on time. This forced my hand, and I feated, last standed and sent Molik Karn into a Angel, that was standing next to a scythean (I have almost never not killed 2 beast with a last standed Karn, but This time I had to pay to charge, as a paingiver was not close enough to Karn. I also had to sidestep to get in range.    I was able to kill the angel, but barely hurt the sythean.   did spent the early game softening up the Legion BE with a variety of attacks and also finished it off with a charging Marketh.  I basically ran the bronzeback/gladiator forward.  I knew there were only minutes left, so I had to play my turns very fast.

The final 3 turns basically were me corning Vayl behind her last beast, as she tried to keep me from either scoring CP to try to tie the game or kill her. I managed to Hex Blast Vayl and knock off admonition. I did this with Marketh, as Hex blast thru zaal missed. That was crazy scary.

I managed to get Bronzeback on Vayl, who had 2 transfers. I hit her with both initials, and knocked her down. I had her down to 2 hp, I said “I buy another attack” which would auto kill her.  Then dice down was called. This creeated a small uproar of “zomg” and “holy crap” from everyone around watching the game.  I had thought I had lost, due to dice down, but one of the people watching said SR2012 end game rules allows for the attack to me made, since I declared the attack at dice down – We called over a judge, and they conferred the rules, and it was determined that was correct, so ended up winning the game

Mad Props to Alex, because he could have easily stalled just  or played slow on any of his last 3 turns even for a few moments, but he never once did.  It was the closest game I’ve ever played.


Round 5  vs Khador (P Butcher)

Opponent – Kurt from St Louis – Very Scary list – Wintergaurd riflecore, hakevich, Underboss and assassins,  nyss with khador UA,  windowmakers, beast09, plus variety of character solos.

Kurt is another good player I have faced off with over the years at various events, and he was really playing well with a very terrifyingly effective list.  He decided to go second, as the board we were playing on was a little for the side I was stuck on.  I basically ran my army forward trying to space out my army enough to keep him spaced out. His army was very difficult for me to have a good plan to engage.  He had so many models that could easily kill all my heavies, that I had no way to actually keep my army safe. His widowmakers were doing a fine job of taking my nihilators

On the Top of Turn 3 I had decided I had 1 option to win. That was to kill Butcher. He was about 14 inches away from Molik Karn but there was an entire kahdor army in the way.

I spent 4 of my 7 minute turn just staring at the board trying to figure out some way to accomplish my goal.  After 4 minutes I figured out plan. It involved trampling a bronzeback to kill a couple key models. Moving my warlock forward THRU free striking assassins to get in range to eye beam one model and hex blast enough. I believe i had to kill another model with a couple other pieces, but its sort of blurr in my mind.

I managed to get a Last Standed Molik Karn under Zaal feat to P Butcher with 4 possible attacks. It only took 3 hits to drop Butcher.


Round 6 vs Cygnar ( E Haley)

Opponent – Josh St Louis –  This is one of the Top 3 most feared Match-ups I could think of. E Haley with Stormwall being played by someone that knows how to win big events.

If I had not played some practice games earlier in the week against similar lists (which i lost btw), I don’t know if I would have had much of a chance in this game.  His list was stormwall, squire, stormblades + ua, lancer, black 13th, Gorman, E Eiryss + odds and ends.

I went second, which is also something I really never want to do against E Haley(but in this game it was important to choose sides, which I will talk about in moment).   I did spent a lot of thought on deployment, and how I was going to advance down the field. I was hoping to stay about 14 1/2 inches away from Stormwall with my key models as long as I could. I also NEEDED to keep  my agonizer and Marketh alive in order to pull out “{Operation Death To Stormwall”.  I was very lucky and had a building on my side of the table, which is where I kept the agonizer and marketh most of the game.

I did not put a lot of models to defend my zone. Mostly Slingers.  He only had stomblades to threaten them. He did almost manage to clear a zone, but he made 1  mistake, and didnt get all the stormblades into the zone. He had wanted to score a CP to put the pressure on me. He had thought you only needed 50% of the unit in the zone.

I kept the agonzier in a spot, so he couldn’t get any TK cast on my caster or all my models. He was using stormwall for the first couple turns trying to damage my heavies with ranged attacks.  He TK’ed Karn backwards and turned him around. He then moved stormwall forward to threaten me more (he also Blinded my bronzeback the same turn with gorman) he had figured he was safe from my 2 biggest hard hitters

However He did not account for Hakaar, (who really needs his own theme song) who moved into range due to Righteous vengeance.  Also while he TK”ed Karn away, he had a model I could sidestep off of, to still reach the stormwall.  On my follow Up Turn – I had Marketh remove Arcane shield from Stormwall. I had zaal put Last stand on Hakaar and Popped his feat. I charged Stormwall and started off with a combo strike. The charge attack did 20 damage over armor.  I managed to wreck about 65% of stormwall with Hakaar. I was then able to side step Karn to him, and finish him off with 2 attacks.

I made 1 mistake this turn. I was so excited to kill the stormwall I had 2 more attacks on Karn I could have used to finish off the lancer, but simply forget to. (in my head I was too busy doing a happy dance and forget to finish Karn)  It didnt matter much, as I still had my agonizer alive to keep the arc node away from my caster.  I also moved my gladiator into my zone to make sure there was no chance he would score a CP.

The following turn, Josh used what models he had left to try to kill my caster. It was not a good caster kill attempt, as I was sitting on 3 fury, but he didn’t have other options.  After that failed. I last standed Karn to Kill E haley, who had to advance to try to help kill my caster.


Final thoughts


It was an amazing day.  6 rounds of warmachine is pretty brutal, and I was exhausted by happy when it was all over.  I really was impressed with how well my hardcore list preformed. I knew my Zaal list could work well, and I’m glad I didnt make any big mistakes that cost me any games. I get to relax for a week or two before I play in any events and look forward to playing some more fun unorthodox lists, which are both fun, and sometimes help find odd combos a person normally doesn’t think about.








Author: Carnage4u

I have played Warmachine since 2004. Before that I have played warhammer fantasy for ten years, but I stopped playing Fantasy shortly after starting warmachine. I enjoy every aspect of the hobby. I love competive play, as well as just playing fun goofy lists on casual game night at our local game store. I also spent a good chunk of my free time working on making terrain for our events our local gamestores. I mainly play Skorne and Cryx, but I do own a small gatorman minion force that I have fun playing. Brian "carnage4u" Giese

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