-By: Jerry H. (PG_possiblyarowbot)
Beast Master Xekaar is simple. Not simple in a one-trick-pony type of way but he is very focused in what he does. He’s a great battlebox warlock as half his spells and several of his abilities only pertain to warbeasts. In early, lower point games, you will probably play Xekaar much further up the field than most warlocks. Witch Mark lets him target and automatically hit an enemy with his spells. Unfortunately, Witch Mark is on his melee weapons, so he has to be in the thick of it to make any us of the ability. The good news is that he is a weapon master on those POW 9 Witch Marking whips of his. In higher point games, he won’t be using that ability much. More models on the table means more threat vectors. While he’s somewhat hard to hit at DEF 15, he’s only ARM 14, meaning he dies to a toddler sneeze. Most of the time, one will find him in the back spamming his cornucopia of murder.
And who is the lucky recipient of these spells and abilities? Not infantry, that’s for sure. The only way he can help out warrior models is by debuffing the enemy through Mortality and his feat. That kind of supports works great for Cryx but this isn’t Cryx. No, Xekaar has so many abilities specifying his battlegroup and warbeasts that one is better off taking lots of warbeasts. This is partly because any battlegroup ability scales with the size of the battlegroup. That’s why you see warcasters and warlocks with Synergy taking lots and lots of cheap warjacks and warbeasts.
Psycho Surgery let’s Xekaar keep his warbeasts in play much longer and heal them to maximum usefulness just before they activate. Never cast is before you use Maltreatment. The Maltreatment ability lets Xekaar remove excess fury from a warbeast at the cost of damage to said warbeast. This is why you heal them after. You wouldn’t want to heal a warbeast only to take out an aspect with Maltreatment.
He also has the Enrage ability. This is the same ability to add +2 STR to a warbeast that the Beast Handlers have. One gotcha you may run into is that it is a star action. This means you lose your initial attacks and cannot buy any. When Xekaar is in the back it’s not a problem, but if you need to get in the fray, forget about it and let the Beast Handlers do it.
Xekaar has the Pursuit spell which lets a battlegroup model advance if the enemy model with Pursuit advances during its turn. The problem is that Pursuit is RNG 8 and there are no arc nodes in hordes, so the only way for Xekaar to even get the spell out is to place himself in harm’s way. Don’t expect to get this spell out often. Deadweight is a nice spell if you can pull it off but it’s also RNG 8 and a huge fury sink to use. It definitely falls into the category of nice to have, but don’t rely on it.
That leaves us with his Feat, which is a -3 to enemy models’ STR, MAT, RAT and THR. It’s a purely defensive feat. You could use the feat to help you get models out of melee (enemies would be at an effective -1 to hit you) or to assist if you need to Throw models (STR check) but otherwise you use it when you’re ready to make your opponent miserable. It does suffer from reliability issues. A flat -3 debuff is great, but it’s only within 12” of Xekaar so anything with Snipe can ignore it and it doesn’t help vs high rolling or clever gameplay. Even if you get your opponent’s MAT to 0 they still auto hit against a knocked down or stationary target. Even at RAT 0 you would only need a 5 vs the same and that’s below average on two dice. It also falls in the nice to have but don’t expect it to save you, category.
Since we aren’t going to take much infantry, what do we take? Infantry. Not many, but if you’re going to have a bunch of beasts you need Beast Handlers. Depending on the size of the battlegroup you could get away with a minimum unit as their abilities crossover with Xekaar’s. Every other unit can benefit from Mortality so take whatever. For example, Immortals would be hitting an effective MAT 8, POW 15 vs a target with Mortality. A unit of Gatormen could get to POW 17 with a Task Master vs the same target. Think of Mortality like Prey that you can move around. Sort of.
This is also the time where I recommend Marketh. It doesn’t happen often. He can cast both Mortality and Deadweight (allowing Xekaar to stay in the back) and as an added bonus, if you somehow managed to get Marketh a soul, Xekaar could upkeep Pursuit, like, once.
As for warbeasts, take anything, really. There’s isn’t a single warbeast that can’t benefit from healing, Pursuit, Mortaility or Rage. Now that they have added Chiron you’re probably going to want to focus on Basilisks, though. You see Chiron is Xekaar’s character beast. If you take Chiron, Chiron gets boosted range attack rolls. He has the same ability as the Bronzeback but for Basilisks (fury removal) and he is a Drake, so the Krea gets flank with Chiron. The real kicker is the SP10, POW 15 gun. That is a silly gun. Sprays are one of, if not the best range attack in the game as they natively attack multiple targets and ignore Stealth, Cover, Concealment and the bonus/penalty for in melee. Couple that with Assault and now (if you Rush him) you charge in 11” and attack a target(s) 10” away with a boosted spray attack. This means if the enemy warcaster/lock is within 21” there is very little the enemy can do to save said warnoun as Shield Guard cannot block a spray. So, you’re probably taking Chiron. Let’s make a silly list.
- Beast Master Xekaar +31
- Aptimus Marketh 5
- Basilisk Drake 8
- Basilisk Krea 7
- Chiron 19
- Titan Sentry 15
- Titan Gladiator 15
- Molik Karn 18
- Venator Dakar 4
- Venator Reivers (Min) 9
- Beast Handlers (Min) 5
This isn’t even a good list but you could throw just about anything in with Xekaar and have a fun time. The Reivers (vs a heavy with Mortality) are POW 14 with a reroll on the attack or damage from the Dakar. They have CRA so why not have two POW 17 shots? That will chip away at most heavies.
Chiron and Karn would be doing the lion’s share of the work. The Krea uses her animus for defense and occasionally paralyses someone then Chiron removes models with his redicugun and Molik Karn finishes up with an effective POW 17 (Mortality + Enrage) Weapon Master warbeast nonsense against some unfortunate soul. With this list, I actually envision the Gladiator sitting in the back blocking LOS to Xekaar (along with the Sentry) so he can get further up the field once Marketh eats it. The Sentry will help intercept ranged attacks against Xekaar’s oh-so-frail body. Basically, I’ve made a slow moving jam army. Get them all up the field, pop feat, watch as the opponent flails, then promptly eat them alive. I may be terrible at list building.
Now take your newfound wealth of knowledge and go out and be somebody!