Warmachine Hordes 5 Minute Tactics: Skorne MeowKeda

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

So '5 Minute Tactics' is a series I've been thinking of doing since ghost fleet was destroying the world. The idea being to give a brief rundown of a 'meta' list for educational purposes. While lists might be popular nationally, it's not uncommon to see local metas weak or missing in some factions. The goal here is to provide a basic knowledge of the list. In addition I'll follow that up with a few general solutions, and end with a few specific ones. So today I sit down with one of my best friends, Colin McKay Miller aka Sardonic Artery to pick his brain about MeowKeda.

What is it?

Well it's Makeda 2 (Supreme Archdomina Makeda) in Masters of War with 2 units of Ferox. Let's start with the Theme itself, Masters of War.

  • All warrior melee attacks ignore tough and RFP. This really opens up the attrition grind.
  • Every 20 points of units gives a free UA or Tyrant Commander and Standard: As there is no ferox UA, two max units of ferox will net the Skorne player two free Tyrant Commander and Standard units. More on what they do later.
  • +1 to your starting roll: Meowkeda loves to go first. The list is super fast, and loves to grab open table space.

Okay so we know about the theme, what about Makeda2?

 I think this is the right Makeda..

I think this is the right Makeda..

  • Makeda2’s ability, Stay Death, allows her to spend a fury to remove one damage point from a disabled warrior model (including character models) in her command area. As she’s command 10, she usually wants to be in the center of the board. This clearly works best on expensive models that get a lot of work done. While she does have a decent spell list, most turns, she will camp six fury to stay death six cats. Here’s when she’ll deviate from the plan.
  • Deflection (faction models gain +2 DEF against shooting and magic in her 12” control area): If you have a few long-range guns/magic attacks that can touch her army bottom of turn one, Makeda will cast this and charge your army (to help keep her 10” bubble of Stay Death). This gets even likelier if the cats can camp out on a hill near the krea’s force aura animus.

  • Dash (when activating in Makeda2’s control area, faction warrior models gain +1 SPD and gain parry): So, you’ve bogged down the cats and they can’t simply jump to a better placement? Here’s where dash gets cast to remove your free strikes.

  • Storm Rager (+2 ARM, MAT, and strength for a faction warrior model and they cannot be targeted by combined ranged/melee attacks): Back when the list played out of theme, Makeda2 would cast this turn one on Rhadeim and have Despoiler upkeep it for free. Since Despoiler isn’t allowed in Masters of War, you’ll only see it cast/upkept on Makeda if there are a lot of CRAs and/attacks that ignore line of sight.

  • Prostration (cost 2, range 8, POW 12: knocks down target model hit): Most Makeda2 players forget this is even on the card. You’ll only see it cast for an assassination run against a high DEF warcaster that can be targeted by spells and knocked down.

  • Finally, her feat grants boosted attack rolls, and makes models immune to knockdown. As most of the army is naturally steady, the latter part of the feat only matters for Makeda2.

Okay so the theme, and caster synergies are in place but what in the list does work? Well here come the Ferox. They are base speed 8, mat 6, def 13, arm 17 with 5 boxes. They are cav models, and have a 2 inch ps12 spear, and a .5 pow 12 mount. They have Jump, which allows them to be placed completely within 5 inches at the end of their normal movement. They also have pathfinder, Combined Melee Attack, Repo3, Steady, and Pounce which grants a boosted mount damage roll after they jump. CMA and Pounce can make for some odd waterfalling CMA's. The Ferox base line of def 13 arm 17 5 boxes makes them annoying to kill, and a great target for Stay Death. Their def is high enough to be annoying to hit reliably, they have reasonable arm and boxes. When we dig a little deeper into the Skorne tool box is when it gets amazing though;

  • Tyrant Commander: Push to the Limit. This adds +2 SPD when a friendly faction warrior unit makes a full advance. We combine this with dash and the Ferox can walk 11 inches, then jump 5 more for a total non linear threat of 18 inches.
     
  • Mortitheurge Willbreaker : Flesh Hardening. Grants Tough to a warrior unit. Did I mention the Ferox are innately steady? Now we have tough, can't be knocked down def 13 arm 17 Ferox with 5 boxes. 
  • Tyrant Rhadeim: Leadership Ferox. He grants Dodge to Praetorian Ferox models in his command (10). So now if you miss those def 13 models they get to move. And will Stay Death we already figured out we're going to have to hit each Ferox a few times to kill it. 
     
  • Basilsk Krea: Force Aura. Grants +2 def and arm to models within 3 inches. While everything loves +2 def and arm the Ferox really make work of it. If we combine their base def of 13, add deflection and the Aura we end up with def 17 arm 19 5 box models, with tough, steady, and dodge. 

So how does it win?

MeowKeda normally is trying to win in one of two ways, attrition or scenario. The Attrition game is pretty straight forward. They rely on Tough/Steady/Dodge and Stay Death to just grind you down. MeowKeda for scenario is actually pretty incredible to watch. If given first turn MeowKeda can take up SO MUCH table, and can threaten almost anywhere. Pushing into the list to contest is often almost impossible. The Ferox will be way up the table, however the support pieces will be able to play further back, and score. The Tyrant Commander is a 2 person unit and perfect for scoring infantry zones the Ferox can't bother to stay within. The Willbreaker or minion solos can perform their duties from the back ranks as well.

So can we do?

There are three main ways to defeat Meowkeda. Let’s start with the obvious:

1)      Bring models that can ignore tough and/or prevent healing:*

a.    Entropic Force/grievous wounds really hurts this list: Ferox are costly, and the list is built around them doing work. If we can kill them easily, the list crumbles. This means the Death Knell can get a lot of work done! (if anything, the Skorne player may not even drop the list if you have these tools, so be ready for the other list in the pairing.)

b.    Dreadrots do great if they can hit the Ferox! While denying tough is not as impactful as entropic force/grievous denying all healing, this makes the grind a lot easier.

*Oddly enough, do you know which faction is great at stopping Meowkeda? Skorne. They have four warlocks that prevent healing and way too many models that ignore tough.  

2)      Bring a large volume of attacks: Eventually, the cats will get hit, the tough checks will fail, and Makeda will be out of fury... if you have enough models to swing on them. Every little bit of making her spend that stack helps. The mortitheurge willbreaker does remove continuous effects when it gives tough, but if the fire or corrosion does kill the cat in the maintenance phase, they don’t have tough and Makeda would still need to spend the fury to keep the model alive (this is if she even has fury as the continuous effects rules roll out before she reaves). Makeda only has so much funding for her kitty cat hospital every turn. Once she’s low, kill the ferox or go after the queen.

3)      Threaten Makeda: Makeda has to spend what would be her transfers to Stay Death. This means that if you can bring enough pressure to make the Skorne player worry about her dying, they won't be as freewheeling with Stay Death. I know I’ve caught her off-guard with a guns blazing Lord Longfellow or a gleefully backstabbing Trapperkin activating late in my turn.

Despite the list having some weaponmasters (the Legends and the Tyrant Commander), an armor piercing attack in Rhadeim, and probably one heavy, the list doesn’t hit that hard. It can be tempting to go with mass high armor and box spam, but as this often comes with a low model count, jack or beast spam isn’t reliable. In fact, most Meowkeda players will tell you they’re happy to see most jack spam lists unless they come with healing prevention and/or parrying jacks with sidestep (read: Amon dervish spam). However, there’s still merit to some of your list being able to tie them up with armor, and slowly grinding those cats down. Cage Ragers and Skin and Moans can get there with the help of the Death Knell as well as lot of other factions.

Recap

So thats a brief rundown of MeowKeda. Thanks to Sardonic Artery for joining us, you can follow him on twitter. Have you played against it let? Also a shout out to RosaRicce for the awesome "crazy cat lady" image. Let me know how you liked this style of article and if you have any requests for future ones! Maybe you even want to help me write one? Be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter to stay up to date. I'll be giving away some holiday prizes any day now!

Cheers,
TT