The Draw: Zaal2 The Exalted

What's the list?

Skorne 

The Exalted 

Zaal the Ancestral Advocate
 - Agonizer
 - Basilisk Krea
 - Cyclops Brute
 - Cyclops Shaman

Abidan the Keeper
Ancestral Guardian
Extoller Novitiate
Extoller Novitiate
Extoller Novitiate
Extoller Soulward
Hakaar the Destroyer
Immortal Vessel

Immortals (max)
 - Extoller Advocate
Immortals (max)
 - Extoller Advocate

Supreme Guardian
Supreme Guardian

What else might be in it?

You might see some Void Archons to add an ARM debuff and some neat bouncy potential. Otherwise, the Solo loadout may be changed up a bit, whether that's a second Ancestral Guardian, or having a pair of Immortal Vessels.

What's its place in the competitive meta?

Staple. While its best days are behind it at this point, this is arguably the most formidable list that Skorne can present at the competitive level, and if you underestimate it you'll be reminded in short order of why it's been so dominant. Several Factions rightly fear the return of Zaal2 to high level competition.

How does this list try to win?

Scenario is its main condition. By taking advantage of the very powerful Feat to blunt retaliation, the recursion abilities of Abidan and the Supreme Guardians, and the high Solo count, this list can score a lot of points in one go and make it very hard to come back, or grind its way out to Turn 7. Beware of the assassination potential enabled by the Vessel, or Zaal2 himself just getting within spell range, as if you're not careful, he'll accumulate a ton of souls and throw some very accurate Sunder Spirits at you.

How is this list commonly beaten?

If you can take out the Supreme Guardians, it's a much easier fight. If you can get around the hit from Defensive Strike, that is. It makes things so much easier to not have to deal with the same recurring stuff over and over again. By the same token, massed Remove From Play can be difficult for the list to deal with due to the damage to the soul economy.

What are its key pieces?

The Supreme Guardians, as mentioned, are central to making sure enough of the Immortals survive to get into the fight and start putting out damage. The Ancestral Guardian speeds them up enough to get there, and the Novitiates provide both a welcome damage buff as well as Tough on a stick. The Advocates aren't vital to snipe, but if you can, the ability of the Immortals to get to obnoxious stats and navigate terrain is reduced. Finally, Hakaar is both a source of accuracy and a very hefty beatstick, especially if Zaal2 can dump a bunch of Fury into Aura of Power boosts.

What are some key gotchas?

Honestly, not many bar the aforementioned assassination; just keep an eye on where those souls are going. If you see them pile up on Zaal2, start protecting your 'caster. Also, be aware of the various Vengeance effects - if you're going to kill something in this list, be prepared to kill a lot of it.

EDIT: Thanks, Billy, for reminding me of this accursed trick. The way Direct Spirits works, you can kill your own models to put souls on your stuff. And Vengeance happens before souls convert into Fury. So be wary of triggering Vengeance with one or two kills, and then an entire army committing mass sudoku before your eyes to turn into an assassination run.

What are its good matchups?

A decent amount of the field. It's hard to pin down anything it smashes, but if the Skorne player knows what they're doing, you're probably going to have a fight on your hands.

What are its bad matchups?

Again, nothing is hugely awful for it these days, with one exception - Vlad2. Right now, it's hard to find an offlist in Skorne to deal with him when he's played well, but if and when one is found, Skorne will be on the rise again.


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