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Skorne Warlock Review: Primus Jalaam (CID)

Sardonic Artery gives an initial take on Skorne’s latest CID warlock, Primus Jalaam (Jalaam1).

It’s a reiver warlock! It’s a Skorne Caine! No, it’s a desert hobo who done got real good with a coward’s weapon he found left lying around.

How do I say this? Is he "Jay-LAME" or great like PB & "Juh-LAM"?

How do I say this? Is he "Jay-LAME" or great like PB & "Juh-LAM"?

After years of (rightfully) complaining that they didn’t need any more beaststick warlocks, Skorne players are testing Primus Jalaam—a dude who, thanks to MAT 7, prey, and grievous wounds on a 1’ melee sword, is actually still pretty good at the stabby stabby. After receiving no changes after one week in CID, I figured I’d better get him on the table for feedback. Note that the following game occurred before he gained resourceful in the latest CID.    

I elected to not go Winds of Death because if I go that route, I feel like I’d just come out of the game going “How is this better than Rasheth1 fart theme?” Also, if you haven’t been paying attention to Shamgi’s thoughts on the CID forum, you should tune in. He’s already noted:

  • Arcuarii and incindiarii have play thanks to deadeye.
  • With warpath, Molik Karn’s fate walker move is closer to what it was in MKII.
  • Jalaam1 could do with +1 POW on his gun to help against high ARM, small-based models.
  • Good luck hitting DEF 16 Legends of Halaak on his feat; and
  • Double sentinels actually has strong game here: Like anyone, you can lay down scathers for covering fire. However, swarm is a great animus for the feat (DEF 13 versus living plus an additional 2 DEF for anyone else nearby) and warpath moves out of melee are no problem thanks to carapace + steady.

You can find his first report here.

For my initial list, I steered clear of bugs and went with high DEF beasts to abuse the feat. A seemingly standard unit of slingers are in to hold the frontline:

(Jalaam 1) Primus Jalaam [+28]
Archidon [10]
Archidon [10]
Basilisk Krea [7]
Cyclops Raider [9]
Cyclops Shaman [8]
Molik Karn [19]
Titan Gladiator [15]
Aptimus Marketh [5]
Paingiver Beast Handlers (max) [7]
Venator Slingers (max) [13]

I had a version without Marketh—using an extoller for LoS help and swamp gobbers to trigger prowl on a scavenger’s blessing beast—but Jalaam1 is already too fury starved to lose his deadeye bot.

I played into Rask, two wrastlers, fishstick boy, the Predator (totem hunter), Wrongeye + Snapjaw, swamp gobbers, and three full, fatty, eight-wound units of gatormen posse. Scenario was standoff. I won the roll to go first and, thanks to hunter and a closer forest, my opponent took the side with all the elevation. Jalaam1 preyed the center unit of posse; the totem hunter preyed my cyclops shaman. I put Jalaam1 dead center with a krea, Karn and a gladiator to his right, then the shaman raider, Marketh, and AD slingers to his left, with an achidon on each flank. I figured if I ran forward hard I could put pressure on him thanks to the feat. My opponent agreed and feated bottom of one, keeping his models from the warpath + walking threat of my heavies.

With most of his army out of reach with that teeny tiny 5” LoS feat, I mostly held back top of turn two after upkeeping warpath and scavenger’s blessing on the slingers. A few deadeyed slingers were able to corrode some boxes off the totem hunter and a clump of gatormen posse (that’ll get you back to five boxes… eventually!), but I mostly sat out of his threat in return. Bottom of two, Rask was able to speed up some posse to put some hurt on my raider and contest my zone. The other two units of posse flooded the two circular zones while Rask scored his own zone. You can see an image of the board state here.

Top of three I was finally ready to see what Jalaam1 had to offer. With a preyed unit of posse already in my zone, I figured it was time to give up on his gun and start hacking past tough checks with his grievous wounds sword. I upkept warpath, dropped scavenger’s blessing, and feated. While the posse were too close to charge, I walk-murdered them, triggering a couple of warpath moves. Much to my delight, one-dice free strikes on DEF 13+ models rarely hit, getting some models into place. Jalaam1 ended his turn with a Vanish move to back up into the zone. After clearing a charge lane, an enraged Karn went into a wrestler, but left him alive because of starcrossed. Meanwhile, I’d given up on slingers doing anything of value this game outside of flare and corrosion. As a result, Marketh went full Hoksune and slew the totem hunter with his staff. Later, he’d kill a posse member and maim a second. I picked up another posse member or two from each archidon. My opponent and I both score one CP.

Thou shallt respect the combat prowess of Hammer pants!

Thou shallt respect the combat prowess of Hammer pants!

Bottom of three, my opponent had a clutch move where Rask—aiming and needing a 7 on a boosted (up to) 2D6 roll—paralyzed Molik Karn (despite him being in melee). This allowed a wrastler to throw my DEF sad, one-eyed king out of the zone and into the krea. Both got knocked down and later fell into a dirt nap. I wasn’t expecting to lose any beasts on my feat turn and instead lost two. Forcing a reroll on that paralysis shot would’ve been clutch, but Karn was maxed out whiffing starcrossed attacks. As my opponent also targeted my objective (read: the only other thing he could hit on my feat turn), it tilted the scenario game pretty hard in his favor. I came close to swinging it back later, but archidons without enrage (they flew far away from those whips) couldn’t kill enough posse to close the scenario gap.

Post-game Jalaam1 thoughts
I’m liking what I see here—even little things like having magical weapons both in melee and at ranged—but Jalaam1 may be one of those “options” warlocks who falls short of the greatness he should’ve been. I don’t think he is as high skill cap as say, a Haley3, but there’s a lot of play to explore with his spell list. I don’t like that I have to choose between warpath (which is great in Skorne) and Artifice of Deviation (which can shape movement for you or your opponent) as both can be key to Jalaam1’s game plan. I’d like Artifice of Deviation to be non-upkeep, but I get that it’s a spell on multiple warcasters and the choice is supposed to be there. Regardless, in Warmachine, you don’t want to pay (in balance) for strong abilities you can’t use at the same time.

EDIT: My mistake. You can upkeep both spells as only warpath is on Jalaam1.

I also think there’s a lot of room to play with his beast load out. While I’m inclined to keep the two archidons, everything else is up for debate. This includes:

  • The raider (read: far strike bot): This one is less of a big deal, but as I’m disappointed in his gun (more on that later), I feel less of a need to get far strike.
  • The gladiator: This one is huge, because, with the exception of Winds of Death or immortal builds, Skorne lists often begin with beast handlers + gladiator. However, with warpath and a pathfinder spell, Jalaam1 can spend those 15 points elsewhere.

I have the krea and the shaman in to handle shooting builds (especially when combined with his cover spell and feat). If I don’t build Jalaam to cover shooting, it means my other list would have to handle high ARM, heavy shooting, and maybe even Cryx? At that point, Jalaam1 just isn’t pulling his weight in a pairing. I don’t think he handles high ARM well—even when built for it, because the beasts that can smash the world in Skorne are DEF 10 or 11, leading to a pretty weak feat turn. Speaking of which:

The feat needs to remain strong
Skorne is not known for strong feats. Since most of the faction strength comes from the army (not the warlock), this kind of a defensive feat could open up some new avenues of play. I disagree with those who think it’s too similar to Mordikaar’s feat. Sure, it’s similar the way Ragnor1 and Doomshaper3’s feats overlap, but much like there, flat out removing dice is a stronger mechanic.

For me, the feat is one of the key reasons to play Jalaam1. I thought his gun would also be a part of the appeal, but I can see it needing a bit of a buff (as Shamgi noted, +1 POW would help a lot against small-based, high ARM targets). I do not expect Privateer Press to give ammo types, but more POW would help. Adding Hunter’s Mark on the gun would make for even less reason to pack a gladiator.

Thoughts on the resourceful add
Playing without resourceful, I thought Jalaam1 could do with some minor efficiency to help his FURY issues. I had originally written that having resourceful would help (and would make Marketh less auto-include, though I still think I’d take him to get out deadeye).

I don’t think it’s uncommon to have warlocks that often sit on a low camp—two transfers most of the time, occasionally one—but without resourceful, I consistently found Jalaam1 sitting on zero or one. That’s not the kind of risk I can pilot consistently through competitive play. I’ve heard some people call for FURY 7, but with the strong feat needing to stay in place, he can’t extend that 2” further. Same goes for warpath movements.

Closing Thoughts
I’m appreciative of what Privateer Press is trying to do with recent Skorne warlock releases. Both Morghoul3 and Jalaam1 bring new spells and abilities to the party that weren’t there before. (I haven’t even touched on deadeye on Skorne when it enables slingers alone to be the flare bots I think Privateer Press wanted them to be all along. Vanish may also have game for getting Jalaam1 around, but if not, it’s a COST 1 spell—what do you expect? I do like that I can sprint from an archidon then vanish back.) However, if Jalaam1 is not an ARM cracker, he’s got a tough road to dethrone Rasheth Winds of Death builds when that list covers so much more.

Unless your opponent has the tech for it (which Rask1 did), I can see Jalaam1’s feat being key to winning every game. As knockdown is a more common solution to his feat, steady heavies, preferably with higher DEF (read: archidons, maybe swarmed sentinels against living armies) are the best pick for the feat. Stationary is another workaround, but only the brute can solve that for Jalaam1 and himself. I can see (steady DEF 16) Legends being key to his feat-to-win game plan, so they’ll be a lock in future builds for me. Wrongeye and Snapjaw (read: access to starcrossed) still seems like a trap, but if I switch to DEF 10-11 heavies, they’d have a role.

Until next time, Skorne kids; keep conditioning the fury off your internet rage.    

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Note: Shamgi also goes by Convergence Chris on Facebook.

You can find Colin McKay Miller (AKA Sardonic Artery) on his Twitter or at Colorado Warmachine events in his tiniest of short shorts.