Starting off our in-depth model reviews for the new Gargantuans book, today I am going to talk a bit about the new Skorne unit, the Cataphract Incindiarii.
Skorne isn’t known for their shooting game. Before the last 2 releases, I would just laugh when my opponent would ask what shooting I had in my army. Skorne shooting? The only shooting we knew of was the “Molik Missile” (which admittedly had a longer range than some Sniped units). Even in the fluff, Skorne just don’t do much shooting. Warriors who would rather sit back and shoot instead of meeting their foes in honorable combat were seen as cowards.
Then came Gargantuans. Apparently Makeda finally realized what every other army out there had already figured out, and decided that maybe there was something to this whole shooting thing. Suddenly we Skorne players find ourselves able to take more than a token shooting model or unit. The Mammoth has been getting most of that attention with the best shooting from any of the 4 Gargantuans. Even knowing how good the Mammoth is going to be (in only a few weeks!), I’m a little surprised at how little talk I’ve seen relating to the other new shooting element in our recent release.
|Trading in harpoons for flamethrowers. Seems good to me|
Stats and Abilities
Let’s take a look at the newest addition to the Skorne ranged game, the Cataphract Incindiarii. as expected, their stat line looks just like the other two brands of Cataphracts. They’re a bit slower than your standard infantry, and their defensive stats are the bottom end of average (though 8 boxes a piece makes them a bit more survivable than they might appear). they make up for that with good command, higher than average MAT, and some of the highest RAT in Skorne. OK, I know that other factions wouldn’t be very excited about RAT 6, but in a faction with RAT values ranging from 3 to 5, 6 is kind of a big deal. they are on the cheap end for heavy infantry, coming in at 9 points for a full unit of 6.
One thing that strikes me looking at the card for the Incindiarii is the fact that the back of their card is completely blank, which is very rare in a faction like Skorne that generally has a wall of text on the back of every card (If the Bronzeback had any more text on the back of his card you would need page numbers). That doesn’t mean they don’t do anything special, however. There are three very nice icons on the front of the card that are worth talking about. First off, the unit is fearless. This isn’t a super rare ability, but not having to worry about your unit running from big scary things or losing half of a very small unit is very nice.
Second the unit has Continuous Fire on their ranged weapons. This is the only real reason you bring Incindiarii. Up to this point, Skorne hasn’t had any access to the fire continuous effect. To make things better, it’s not just critical fire so it will always catch what it touches on fire. Because it’s on a gun that fires 3″ AOEs, you don’t even have to directly hit anything for the fire to work (in fact a lot of times you might be better off missing your primary target and setting other things on fire). If you’ve ever played a game against Menoth, I don’t have to explain to you why continuous fire is good. There are very few targets that don’t care about being shot by fire. It can take points off of heavies, it kills most infantry outright, and most casters can’t last more than a round or two on fire.
|Time to light some Menites on fire…|
Finally, the unit has Combined Ranged Attack. Normally you’re going to be using the Incindiarii to carpet bomb an area and set as much stuff on fire as possible. CRA gives a level of flexibility to a unit that would otherwise only be able to do one thing well. If you really need to kill or set a very specific target on fire, CRA is the way to go. CRA is always a nice thing to have, but it’s especially nice on models with a nice RAT stat to start with. A 2-man CRA is RAT 8 pow 14, letting you hit almost any infantry with 3 shots from a full unit. They could potentially even dent a heavier target with a full 6-man CRA (RAT 12 POW 18), though that kind of shot is going to be rare. Generally, you’re going to be either firing single shots to catch large areas on fire, or you’re going to do pods of 2 to hit important solos, clumps of models or casters that get too close.
Thoughts on the Incindiarii
Incindiarii are another piece in the puzzle that is the emerging combined arms Skorne force. In fact, when you look at the last 2 releases, we’re to the point where you could potentially make a pretty effective Skorne gunline. Didn’t see that one coming did you? Between the slingers, Mammoth, Incindiarii, Raider and the older shooting models like the Drake, Reivers, etc, we now have some very attractive shooting options.
So why pick Incindiarii over some of these other shooting options? Incindiarii help fill in one of Skorne’s traditional weaknesses. As a general rule, Skorne has less trouble breaking armor than any other faction in the game. Armor buffs (even on Colossals) don’t scare us. We do tend to have an issue dealing with high defense jamming infantry, though. Iron Flesh Kayazy tend to do really well against Skorne in general. Epic Hexeris is an awesome answer to high defense infantry, but you kind of want something that will help you remove some of those pesky models without being forced to bring Hexeris.
Incindiarii do this nicely. They offer 6 3″ AOEs a turn for a very reasonable price tag. They have high RAT to hit things that aren’t super high defense, and CRA if you need it. But more importantly, continuous fire is a huge deal in clearing out infantry. Even models that generally don’t care about (or are immune to) blast damage will die to fire. Banes don’t care about the POW 6 blast damage, but 2/3 of them will die next turn to fire. Fire is also a nice threat to enemy casters. Most Menoth players will tell you that you can’t rely on fire killing enemy casters. But even if the fire doesn’t kill the enemy caster, it will likely take some points off and will force them to play more conservative than they want to.
How effective are the Incindiarii in real games? So far in the games I’ve run them in, they’ve done just as well as they do on paper. The one rough game for them was against a Rahn list, where my opponent got to determine all my deviation directions. Even then, the Incindiarii took down half a unit of Mage Hunters, 3 Battle Mages and half of an Artificer. And that was their worst game so far! In a couple of my games I ran out of targets for them, because everything within 10″ of the unit was already on fire by the time I got to the 6th shot. In 3 of my games so far, even with their short range, my Incindiarii were able to light the opposing caster on fire (though they have yet to actually die to fire damage).
Most Skorne casters could find a place for the Incindiarii. They are a powerful, self-sufficient unit that helps fill a gap in many Skorne lists. That said, some Warlocks will really like the Incindiarii.
One of the more obvious matches for the Incindiarii is Tyrant Xerxis. Xerxis already likes Cataphracts (which makes sense for the Cataphract Tyrant), and usually brings at least one unit of Cetrati. The main problem with a standard Xerxis list is that it is really easy to jam due to the low volume of very high damage attacks. Incindiarii fill this gap nicely. They also benefit well from Xerxis Martial Discipline ability, letting them shoot and move through friendly medium and small base models. So if you bring a Tyrant commander and use Press Forward on both units (one from Xerxis himself), you can do a little leap-frog maneuver letting the Incindiarii move up and shoot, then have the Cetrati (with defender’s ward of course) move up in shield wall to block them.
Or, if you want to go with something completely different with Xerxis, consider his theme force. Cataphract units are a point cheaper, so you could get 2 min units (8 models) for 10 points. At 35 points you could take 4 min units of Incindiarii, 2 catapults, slingers and a bronzeback. Probably not an effective list, but I’m sure someone is going to put it together at some point.
The second caster that has an obvious place for the Incindiarii is eHexeris. I know I said earlier that a benefit of taking Incindiarii was not having to use eHexeris every tournament, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use him at all. If you’re going to make an anti-infantry list why not go all in? Black spot is the obvious synergy here. Shooting at the affected unit effectively makes the Incindiarii RAT 8, letting them hit most infantry in the game. Then if the initial shot kills a model (even the blast damage counts, don’t forget!), you get a free shot that doesn’t have to target the same unit. So not only will you most likely demolish the unit you were shooting at, but you could have up to 12 fire AOEs in a single turn! Dice could be a major factor in getting that perfect activation off, but that’s what Puppet Master is for.
The nice thing with eHexeris is that the Incindiarii don’t have to be built around. You could drop them into any eHexeris list and they’ll do just fine. I’ve been running them in a pretty standard Skorne list with the normal assortment of heavies and solos. eHexeris make almost anything good, but the Incindiarii bring him to a whole new level of infantry control.
The third caster I like them with is one that has been rising in popularity lately. Mordikaar got some love in this last release with his very own Character warbeast, and that made people start looking at him again. I had started running him a few months ago, and knew I was going to want some Incindiarii with him. Here’s the list I’ve been running with him:
Void Seer Mordikaar
* Basilisk Krea
Max Swordsmen + UA
It has all the toys that Mordikaar wants. He has just a couple of beasts to handle a few hard targets, and a swarm of fearless infantry. The swordsmen are only there to die and give Mordikaar souls via Hollow. The void spirits are obvious choices with Mordikaar since he lets them all get boosted melee attack rolls in his control range. Those are all standard Mordikaar choices. The difference is I’m taking Incindiarii as my main Revive targets. Between revive and ghost walk, Mordikaar can deliver those burning AOEs anywhere he wants them. As long as you keep one member of the unit safe, it should be easy to revive one or two a turn and advance the unit somewhere where they can get their shots on support models or enemy casters.
This list (and Mordikaar in general) is really fun to play. I am expecting it to make it into several of my tournament rotations this ‘Con season. I enjoy this list now, but it will really get turned up to 11 when Despoiler comes out. The plan is to drop the two heavies in the current list for Despoiler, an Archidon (for most ghost-walking fun) and some Swamp Gobbers. I’ll be talking a little bit later about why the Despoiler is going to be so much fun with Mordikaar.
Overall, I think the Incindiarii are an amazing addition to Skorne. They might not be as powerful as the Willbreaker or the Mammoth, but they are still one of the better releases in Gargantuans. I expect to be using mine in very many lists this year.
What about you other Tyrants out there? Have the Incindiarii made it into your normal unit rotations? What Warlocks have you played them with?