Hordes Journeyman League: pMorghoul Tactica
The local Journeyman league is over. Playing in it taught me a lot about how to win, and lose, with Master Tormentor Morghoul.
Master Tormentor Morghoul, aka pMorghoul, is the Skorne battlebox Warlock. Lets review the statline and spell list first, for those who may not be familiar with him.
Fury 5 SPD 7 MAT 8 DEF 17 ARM 13 with Pathfinder, Sprint, Anatomical Precision, Overtake, Perfect Balance, Maltreatment, and two P+S 9 melee claws. Morghoul has the additional ability of being able to attack with both melee weapons with each Fury spent to buy an additional attack. He can also place or remove 1 Fury point from a Warbeast with each hit. Once per turn, Maltreatment allows him to pull a Fury point from a Warbeast in his control area during Morghouls activation, and add that Fury point to his own total for cost of d3 damage to the affected Warbeast. This essentially means Morghoul can act as a 6 Fury Warlock when necessary.
His spells are few, but good. Abuse gives a friendly Warbeast an additional +2 SPD and STR for one round at the cost of d3 damage to the beast. Admonition is an upkeep which allows a target friendly model to advance up to 3″, ignoring free strikes, when an enemy model ends its movement within 6″ of the friendly model. This can be used to, say, move Morghoul himself away from the enemy the first time they charge him, or to move a model into melee to tie up an enemy ranged unit or arcnode. The last spell, Torment, is a RNG 10 POW 12 attack that denies damaged models the ability to benefit from Tough, heal, or transfer damage for one round.
Morghoul’s Feat is powerful, and will normally be used the turn you commit your force, or when you’re ready to assassinate an enemy Warlock camping Fury. For one round enemy models in his 10″ control area cannot spend Focus, be forced, or have damage transferred to them.
The most obvious model/unit to pair with pMorghoul is Paingiver Beast Handlers. With Abuse and Enrage, you can push your Warbeasts up to +4 STR, +2 SPD, and the ability to charge or slam for free. Add the Rush animus from a Titan Gladiator and they can charge another +2″ through rough terrain for free. That means you can have a Cyclops Savage charging 13″ through rough terrain with P+S 17 on its sword and the ability to purchase 3 additional attacks. That’s a 15″ threat range when you account for Reach on the Savages sword. Most enemy heavies will be seriously damaged, and two Cyclopses working together can kill them off. Not bad for a 5 point light Warbeast. Even a Titan can charge a model 11.5″ away. Molik Kharn becomes a nightmare in that scenario.
You can see right away that pMorghoul is a great Warbeast caster who can be great at initiating an alpha strike- that first hit- on an enemy force. The theory is great! Buff up your Warbeasts, charge the enemy from obscene threat ranges, and wreck face. There’s just one problem, and the biggest weakness of a pMorghoul list. To completely take advantage of those awesome free charges Morghoul himself has to be up the field. Why? So your Warbeasts don’t charge outside his control range and be unable to force for boosts or additional attacks. This means you’ve got to be absolutely sure that you can protect Morghoul from whatever retaliation comes his way.
There’s the danger with Morghoul. Abuse encourages you to spend all of his fury on buffing up 3 Warbeasts (assuming you use Maltreatment to give him a 6th point). Even if you only buff up two beasts, you’ll probably want to upkeep Admonition on Morghoul to help protect him- not to mention Feating on the turn you engage. DEF 17 is high, but it doesn’t stop him from being knocked down or debuffed, or even hit. A MAT 8 model only needs 9’s to hit him on 3d6, well within the odds of success, and there are plenty of spells and abilities out there that give an extra attack die or boosted attacks without requiring a model to spend Focus or Fury. Morghoul’s low ARM means that once he is hit, it won’t take much to kill him, and spending most of your Fury on Abuse and upkeeping Admonition only leaves 1 left for transfer’s, IF you used Maltreatment. Being 10″ away from the front lines is well within the threat range of many, many things in Warmachine. There are numerous ways to take him down. That’s why I recommend the following:
Take these things in your Morghoul lists- Aptimus Marketh and a unit of infantry, preferably with reach. Marketh exists to help Morghoul cast Abuse, without actually having to spend the Fury himself, giving him more Fury for transfers, or casting Abuse on that 3rd (or 4th!) Warbeast. The cheap unit of infantry is there to tie things up. They exist to get in the way, clog up charge and sight lanes, and generally make it more difficult for your opponent to get to Morghoul on Feat turn. Coincidentally, the souls they provide in dying can be well-used by Marketh to upkeep Admonition for free, and thus give Morghoul one more point of Fury for himself. If the infantry have Reach, like Praetorian Karax, all the better. Another option would be running Cataphract Cetrati up in front of him to literally block LOS to Morghoul with their medium bases. It’s more expensive, but they’re more likely to survive the enemy turn.
I lost several games because I exposed him to too much of the enemy force, or because I charged my primary damage dealers outside of 10″ and couldn’t do enough damage to capitalize on the charges. As I became more focused both on Morghoul’s control range and on protecting him I won more often.
For those of you who play Morghoul, what are your experiences?