People just seem to have something against the Lord Assassin. In fact, I don’t think there is any other mdoel in the Skorne range that gets as much hate as eMorghoul. Well, the Siege Animantarax might come close, but he is the only thing that even give eMorghoul a run for his money as the “most hated” Skorne model. Just take a look at the Skorne PP forum. There are countless threads ranking the Skorne casters. they generally follow the form:
Chain Attack (a podcast that has gone about the huge task of ranking every caster in the game), has ranked eMorghoul as an “F”. There are only 3 other casters that share this less-than-desirable title with eMorghoul – Dr. Arkadius, Gunnbjorn and Zerkova.
However, if you’ve read any of my articles so far on BOLS (or my own blog), you may have noticed that I like to stick up for the under dog. No matter how much the internet hates a model, I will not write it off until I’ve played with it! which is a good thing, or I would have passed on playing eMorghoul. I’ve been enjoying my time playing eMorghoul. In fact, just a few weeks ago I played him in the Wargamescon Hardcore event, and against all odds managed to win the event. I wrote a full report of that event here. This article isn’t just to talk about that one event, but to talk about why I like eMorghoul and how I run him.
Let’s start by taking a real quick look at eMorghoul’s rules. I won’t spend too long on these, it’s pretty easy to find the stats and rules if you need to reference them.
eMorghoul’s stats are what you would expect from an assassin. high speed, high MAT, really good DEF and poor ARM. He also has stealth and pathfinder. His special rules are fairly interesting. He has appiration built-in, letting him teleport 2″ every turn. He has perfect balance, and gives that to any paingivers (including bloodrunners and master tormentors) in his army. He also has Arcane Assassin, making it easier to hit and kill enemy casters.
He has 2 weapons. His fan is very low pow, but causes Blind on hit. More about this later. His sword, Mercy, is a P+S 12 WeaponMaster attack.
His spell list is short and sweet. He has Ghost Walk and Flashing Blade, which are both fairly common spells. he also has a unique spell called Silence of Death, which gives Grievous Wounds to one friendly model/unit.
His feat is fairly poor, giving all Friendly Faction models in his tiny control area +2 def and evasive. Evasive allows a model to move if missed by a ranged attack, and makes them immune to free strikes.
OK, with that out of the way let’s take a closer look at the caster. We’ll start by looking at the issues eMorghoul has. His feat is really not good. Many people consider it the worst feat in the game, and I have trouble disputing that claim. Even our own faction has a feat that does the same thing but better. Mordikaar is +3 and Poltergheist, which is usually better than Evasive. +2 def on an army with poor def values in the first place just isn’t impressive. On the plus side, it does make eMorghoul himself ridiculously hard to hit at Def 19 (plus any bonuses from terrain, the Krea, etc).
Another big problem is his lack of Armor. He has one of the lowest ARM values of any caster in the game, which is even worse for a front-line caster/assassin. blast damage could very well kill you. Chain lightning might kill you. Models slammed into you will kill you – and if eMorghoul ever gets knocked down, you might just want to save yourself the pain and quit right then and there (not that I actually endorse quitting. but if there was ever a time…).
And finally, he has a tiny spell list. Skorne tends to have a lot of casters with good army buffs, and eMorghoul doesn’t fit that mold. He has one very situational spell (flashing blade with no reach weapons? oh well). The other 2 spells are still fairly situational, but are at least stronger than flashing blade.
OK, enough complaining. eMorghoul has some issues, no doubt. But I feel like too many people stop looking here and don’t give him a good try. Let’s look at some more positive pieces to the puzzle.
eMorghoul is very hard to get your hands on. If you do, he’s dead, so he needs ways to avoid taking damage. He has Stealth to keep him safe from most shooting, but there is a lot out there that can ignore stealth. DEF 17 is nice, but a lot can still hit that with boosts. And as I mentioned, he needs to avoid being knocked down, or that def is meaningless. To keep him alive, I like to run him with 3 defensive beasts – a Brute, a Razor Worm and a Krea. In the Krea bubble Morghoul goes up to Def 19 vs ranged. His armor also goes up a bit. With the Worm, he won’t be taking that blast damage. Finally with the Brute, he won’t be knocked down and you can potentially shield-guard an attack that would have damaged Morghoul. I rarely build an eMorghoul list without these three beasts.
|If you didn’t bring one, you’re doing it wrong|
If you can use your army to keep Morghoul safe, once he gets to the enemy caster he can usually take them out. Fitting his title of Lord Assassin, Morghoul is really good at taking down casters. As the saying goes, “boosted Pow 12s kill casters”. So Weapon Master pow 12s should do the trick against anything shy of Karchev/Terminus/etc. And eMorghoul has very little trouble hitting his target once he gets there. MAT 8 is great, but it gets better with Blind.
Blind is one of the strongest abilities in the game. It has a solid paragraph of text, and none of it is good for the guy who got blinded. Just ask anyone who has ever gotten a caster hit with a Black Oil bomb from Gorman. Once the enemy is blinded, eMorghoul has an effective MAT of 12, which will hit most enemy casters without boosting. Back in Mk1, eMorghoul had a feat that caused Blind to every enemy in his control area. It was one of the most ridiculously good feats in the game. Skorne players still remember those good old days, and that nerf is one reason he gets so much flak now.
Against Warmachine players, Arcane Assassin cuts right through their power fields and any spells like Iron Flesh that might be protecting them. Against hordes, you have Grievous Wounds. A Warlock that can’t transfer is going to be much easier to kill than one that can. Silence of Death is actually an amazing spell. You can get an entire unit of swordsmen with Grievous wounds, and they cut right through things like Errants (self-sac is a healing ability…), Tough models, etc. If one swordsman nicks a beast or caster, they can’t heal for a turn, meaning that Beast may actually go through a turn with a missing aspect.
Of course, Morghoul doesn’t always have to be the one to make the kill. I usually run him with 3 heavies (Gladiator, Archidon and Molik Karn), each of which can kill casters. While Morghoul doesn’t do much to buff these beasts, they offer more options when going for a kill. If your opponent is focused on avoiding eMorghoul, he may leave himself open to one of the heavies. Skorne has such good beasts that they really don’t need a ton of caster support to still be good. Ghost Walk or Grievous wounds on a beast is surprisingly powerful and can catch an opponent off-guard. In fact, 3 of my 4 games at Wargamescon with eMorghoul had an Archidon with Ghost Walk hop over and attack a caster at some point during the game. Even if you know it’s coming, that can be very hard to defend against.
In the end, I feel like eMorghoul does one thing very well. You really have to design an army around getting the assassination. eMorghoul doesn’t always fare well in protracted battles or scenario games. But – if you can get him in a game where you have to kill the enemy caster (either hardcore or just a scenario like overrun where you’re not really going to win on scenario anyways), eMorghoul can deliver. He is very hard to kill (as long as the opponent doesn’t have Kreoss), and he’s good at killing enemy casters. You will often find yourself in games where you only kill 3 or 4 models before killing the caster. eMorghoul runs fast and lean, with everything in the army being used to deliver him or one of his beasts to the enemy caster. It’s not traditional Skorne, but it is a blast to play. eMorghoul has quickly become one of my favorite casters to play. He may not be a super-star, but he certainly doesn’t deserve an “F” rating.
Have any of you had success playing with the Lord Assassin? what caster do you have that’s dear to your heart but doesn’t often get much attention?