The wave of lesser warlocks and warcasters continues! How does Tyrant Zaadesh stack up against the others, and does he bring new options to the Skorne Empire?
Generally, the batch of character journeyman warcasters has been much better received then the lesser warlocks so far. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, most of the lesser warlocks have some pretty hefty restrictions on what they can bring. the Beast Mistress can only bring lessers, Horgle can only bring pyre trolls and slag trolls, and Una can only bring warbeasts with flight. While these restrictions fit the theme of those lessers, they seriously limit the possible applications. The Journeyman warcasters don’t have any such restrictions and are often seen running character heavies or collosals.
The second big issue that may be holding back the lesser warlocks is the same sort of issue that comes up in the Collosal vs Gargantuan debate. Warmachine armies gain a ton of efficiency with any added source of focus. Collosals get way more bang for your buck for the 3 focus they can be allocated. in the same way, Journeyman Warcasters let you bring a jack and fully fuel it every turn with 0 investment from your actual Warcaster.
Hordes on the other hand relies on having enough beasts generating enough Fury to keep a warlock running into the mid to late game. So this means that every beast you attach to your lesser warlock is Fury that is not going to fuel your actual Warlock. this means one less beast that has to die before you run out of fury generation and transfer targets as the game wears on.
With all of this in mind, I think that Zaadesh is the best of the lesser warlocks so far, even though he will not have the same level of impact as the good journeyman casters like Tristan or Gastonne. Kind of like the Mammoth is the best of the Gargantuans but still doesn’t come close to the power level of Prime Axiom and Stormwall.
Stats and Abilities
Let’s look at what we get for the 3 points it costs to bring Zaadesh in your army.
Zaadesh’s stats are not exactly awe-inspiring. His stat line looks almost exactly like our throw-away front line infantry, the lowly Praetorian Swordsman (not that that makes him unplayable, I run swordsmen all the time). The only bump in his base statline is one extra armor, but in this game the difference between 14 and 15 armor is minimal.
His weapon is similarly average, though it does boast reach and magical weapon which can come in handy against certain opponents. Skorne generally has little problem with finding magical attacks, but it is nice to have. The swords swings at a decent P+S of 12, which is in line with our normal infantry.
OK, so you’re not bringing Zaadesh for his stats. You’re bringing him because he’s a miniature Warlock. His fury stat is the same as all the other lessers, at 4. It doesn’t sound all that low when we have so many Fury 5 warlocks in faction….
Zaadesh brings 2 spells on the back of his card. First is a very situational nuke, Perdition. Perdition is a really nice spell elsewhere, but is limited by the low low fury stat of 4. It costs half his stack to cast and barely breaks double digits on pow. But if you do somehow manage to damage an enemy model, one of Zaadesh’s warbeasts can make a full advance towards the nearest enemy model. The warbeast has to be in Zaadesh’s control area. So lots of restrictions, but very effective if it goes off.
The second spell is one of the main reasons to bring Zaadesh. Tag Team is an upkeep that essentially gives Gang to the battlegroup. +2 to attack and damage in melee as long as another battlegroup member has the target in their melee range. This is a really neat ability. anything that gives +2/+2 is pretty sweet, but one that is not a spell or animus on your warbeasts is even better, allowing it to stack with all the other buffs Skorne has laying around. We’ll talk more about this spell in a minute.
Aside from spells there are 2 more things to note on the back of Zaadesh’s card. First is his ability Protective Battlegroup. This works like a reverse shield guard, allowing Zaadesh to choose a battlegroup model within 2″ to be hit by a ranged OR MAGIC attack that hits Zaadesh, once per round. same restrictions as shield guard, but to any battlegroup model. Between this ability and transfers, Zaadesh will stay alive a lot longer than you would believe by looking at his low stat line.
And finally I want to point your attention to what is NOT printed on the back of this card. Restrictions of any kind on his battlegroup! Zaadesh is the only lesser warlock in this batch that can take any warbeast he wants to. Even Molik Karn (though I don’t think that’s a good choice, you totally can do it). This means he can take character beasts, a Mammoth, whatever! This also makes him the only lesser that can take a heavy (again, referring only to the lessers in the upcoming book, we’re not referring to Wrong Eye and the other minion lessers that we’ve had for a while).
With all of this in mind, I propose 3 different ways that Zaadesh can be used. Because of that nice lack of restrictions you can do plenty more, these are just the ones I like so far.
1. Use as a flanking unit. For this method, you’re treating Zaadesh and his battlegroup like a self-running unit. Load him up with cheap beasts and let them take a flank further from your warlock. Works best for warlocks that have trouble with spread scenarios like pMorghoul. For this battlegroup I like the concept of 4 reptile hounds with him. The unit only costs 11 points, comparable to units in many factions. Those 11 points buy you 5 models with a total of 57 health boxes to throw in a zone. Tag Team and Flank on the hounds stack nicely, making them MAT 9 pow 10 weapon masters against something in melee with another hound. POW 12 if you have a paingiver close enough. This unit is great at hitting Tough units, especially since Zaadesh is one of the few in Skorne who can cast Slaughterhouse without losing some soft of “on destroyed” effect.
2. Combat buffed battlegroup. For this configuration, Zaadesh brings 2 lights and makes them hit that much harder. Used best when used in tandem with other damage buffs like pMorghoul’s Abuse or Xerxis Fury. Tag Team lets you bring out the best in your cheap as dirt Lights. If you go with Cyclopes 2 Brutes are incredibly survivable and hit hard with tag team. Combining a drake and krea gives a similar effect to the reptile hounds. Best case scenario a Krea gets enrage, Fury and has a drake in combat with its target. this makes that little 4 point utility light into a MAT 8 P+S 19 weapon master! Throw in Xerxis feat and watch her kill or maim a collosal.
3. Buff bot. This is probably my favorite way to use Zaadesh right now. You’re not throwing a bunch of points into making a unit of beasts, or risking Zaadesh in combat. His job is to help a Fury-strapped warlock spam a good animus, in a similar role to a Shaman. My favorite so far is to give him a Gladiator only. This means you’re just swapping the Gladiator already in the list over to Zaadesh. Now between the two of them they can put rush out on 3 beasts a turn. This is big for Morghoul1 and Makeda2, letting them focus on casting spells and still getting long threat ranges on multiple heavies.
I especially like the Gladiator for this role because he is generally a back-line second wave beast anyways. You want him safe, but he has enough hitting power to kill whatever just killed your bronzeback. With Tag Team, that Gladiator can be MAT 8 P+S 20! This method could also work well with an Archidon to spam sprint, or with a krea to get more instances of the Aura up.
Aside from these 3, special mention goes to the upcoming warbeast pack that Skorne will be getting in the same book as Zaadesh. We have no idea what it does yet, but PP staffers that attended TexasGamesCon assured us that Zaadesh will absolutely be great with the Pack. And I don’t see how he wouldn’t be. If you’re going to be buying a warbeast pack, Zaadesh almost looks like a UA for them, giving them gang. Time will tell how good that combo will be, and if warbeast packs even show up in future lists.
The Zaadesh Missile
One last interaction to talk about is using Zaadesh to enable assassinations from a long range. This is the most cornercase use for Zaadesh and doesn’t rank in my top 3 uses for the new warlock. But, the option is there and should be mentioned. The idea is to use Zaadesh to launch an assassin beast (either an Archidon or Karn in most cases) a really long way off to catch a squishy caster by surprise. Potentially you could hit a knocked down enemy model with perdition, allowing Molik Karn to advance 6″. Then you get rush on him, enrage him, puppet master him etc. Then Molik can charge 11″, has reach and 2 side steps, giving him a threat range of 23″.
Of course at this point, Molik is way outside your tiny 8″ control area. Luckily, willbreakers can still allow you to force your beasts outside your control area. The infernals were nice enough to confirm that this does in fact work for lesser warlocks.
On the other hand, I don’t usually like bringing Karn outside of Makeda for the extra Fury, and character restrictions are a thing. Makeda makes Molik a missile with similar threat ranges already, so no need for Zaadesh to help there. An Archidon could be good (7″ perdition, + 10″ charge = 17.5″ threat), especially with Ghost Walk from Morghoul2 or Mordikaar. If you play your cards right and run a reptile hound to the caster first, then charge zaadesh forward and tag something with perdition, then get the Archidon up, it becomes a MAT 8 P+S 19 beater on the enemy caster. Pretty scary, but you can see why I don’t consider that something to aim for in list building. It’s just a little too corner-case for any of my tournament lists.
Have you been using Tyrant Zaadesh in your army lists? How has he done, and what sort of loadout do you send him with?