Getting to Know You…
I was excited for Master Ascetic Naaresh from the first time I saw him, and over the last few weeks I’ve finally been able to put him on the table for a test drive. Nihilators have been at the core of most of my lists since I started playing Skorne - I just love the idea of pain-loving berserker warmongers. What could be better than a pain-loving, berserker warmonger warlock? Unfortunately I haven’t been having much luck with him. The worst part is that I really, really want to like him. I need to rethink my approach with him…
Naaresh is kind of a tricky dude, and it’s taking me a little while to figure out how to really use him. When you read his card, the first thing that stands out is the interaction between Pain Monger and Life Drinker: Every time Naaresh takes damage he gains a blood token that grants him +1 ARM and +1 STR (he can have up to 5). Then, every time he kills a living enemy model, he heals d3 damage. Taking the two together, it seems like he should be wading into enemy troopers and cutting them down, taking damage and then healing right back up.
The only problem with this is that he’s lacking the tools to be an effective troop killer. While his cyclone spell lets him get into combat and make an attack against every enemy in his melee range, his lack reach weapons means that, at best, he may get a shot at three enemies. Add to that the lack of a reach weapon, or any kind of ability like Side Step or Overtake, and his ability to chain attacks together becomes extremely limited. Compare that to a caster like Morghoul, who is a troop killing monster: Anatomical Precision lets him avoid high armor, Overtake lets him chain kills together, Perfect Balance allows him to avoid free strikes, Double Strike gives him two attacks for each fury spent, and Sprint lets him get out of trouble when it’s all over. Making that comparison, it’s pretty clear that Naaresh is a situational troop-killer at best.
Instead, I think Naaresh is meant to be the Skorne’s version of Lord Commander Stryker: A cruise missile built to deliver a game ending kill from halfway across the board. Pair Naaresh with the battle plans of a Tyrant Commander, and he can deliver the pain from 17 ½ inches away, with half of that movement immune to free strikes. The way I see it, it goes something like this:
- First, you have 5 pain giver beast handlers last Naaresh. Thanks to his Flagellant rule, they automatically hit. Remember, in MKII you still have to roll damage for anatomical precision – you can’t just choose to apply one damage point. Much like eStryker, it is possible to severely damage Naaresh in the process of powering him up. You want to be sitting at POW 15 and ARM 20 before you go in.
- Next, you have the Tyrant Commander use him Press Forward battle plan on Naaresh to give him +2 SPD when making a full advance this turn.
- The best scenario would be to then find a gap opponent’s line and either cyclone through (up to eight inches thanks to Press Forward) avoiding free strikes, or kill couple of models and heal up a bit if need be.
- From there, charge in on the enemy caster and get it done. If they are camping focus, you may want to open with a Combo Strike, which will deliver a POW 19 boosted damage roll. For lower armor casters, the two POW 15 options may be the better solution –either way, you will have 6 focus left to get the job done after the initial attack. Unfortunately, much like Epic Stryker, if you don’t get the job done, you are probably toast.
Now I’m starting to play around with what else needs to be in a Naaresh army… He needs a decent number of warbeasts to get the most out of his feat, so that needs to be considered. The aformentioned Tyrant Commander is manditory for the +2 SPD boost, and he can also offer Patherfinder if the enemy caster has something like Inhospitable Ground in play. On the turns he's not buffing Naaresh, he can be helping knocked down Nihilators stand back up. As far as other models: The Cyclops Savage’s Prescience animus would allow Naaresh to boost after the fact, which would be really valuable on the assassination turn. Marketh would be useful for casting Iron Flesh at the end of every turn so your units don’t take the speed penalty on their activation.
So, with a new appreciation, I think I’ll rebuild my lists and give him a try again this week. I'll keep you posted on how it all works out. Hopefully this romance was meant to be…