Skorne Faction overview
The Skorne are a barbarous and brutal warrior people from beyond the Bloodstone Desert. They mobilize their forces from the great city of Halaak, a large desert city built on the blood and lives of slaves. Skorne nobility is in a state of perpetual infighting. Every noble house will use every opportunity to assert their power over their rivals, but Archdomina Makeda has changed this. After the betrayal of Vinter Raelthorne she channeled the might and wrath of the Skorne into a mighty war campaign against the Iron Kingdoms, seeking the complete subjugation and slavery of all the Immoren nations. Even in a context of the other warmachine / hordes factions, the skorne are particulary cruel. The models represent this in full, and sports some rather unpleasant war choices: Besides being better at slave driving and torture, they also torment and madden their own warbeasts with their knowledge of pain and blood magic.
Skorne for Beginners
After the great errata it is really hard to write a beginner's guide for the Skorne; the internal balance of the Skorne is excellent and if a model looks as if it is supposed to do something it almost certainly does. About the only lack in the Skorne collection right now is a control caster (other than by getting ARM values up into the mid 20s) and that is almost certainly deliberate; no one fighting against the Skorne finds them tooth-grindingly annoying in the way they do certain casters in other factions. On the other hand Skorne have tools to deal with most opposition including gunlines and solid armour.
The Skorne Battle Box consists of a Titan Gladiator, a Cyclops Savage and a Cyclops Raider. With them you get Beast Master Xekaar, a beast warlock. There is an older MK2 battle box featuring Master Tormentor Morghoul, the Gladiator and two Savages. Most Skorne warlocks fall into the categories of Tyrants (warrior caste) like Xerxis1, or mortitheurge (blood magic users) like Rasheth1 or Mordikaar1. A good place to start Skorne would be a Battle Box and Makeda1 or Hexeris1. Many Skorne lists are built around a core of beast handlers, as these can really increase the beasts efficiency and survivability. Another excellent support piece is the Basilisk Krea, who sports an outstanding Animus. Skorne offers superb support in general, but new players should be advised to avoid bloating their support choices.
Skorne Models and Units
Unlike most forces, Skorne used to be plagued with anti-synergy - small traps making army designs tricky. It is a trait that is not exclusive to them, but in previous editions so agonizingly prevalent in their forces that it was named after them. It is Skornergy. Skornergy is the opposite of synergy, it is a thing in which two good abilities or features are mutually exclusive or contradictory. Primarily focused in their Warlocks, it makes it very important to double-check any spell or ability of a new warcaster against his other spells or abilities before using them. Skornergy isn't insurmountable, and it can be turned against your enemy by leaving him to have to choose between two bad options, but it does demand a detailed understanding of your models and their rules interactions. This anti-synergy was reduced in the new edition but is still present.
Example: Supreme Archdomina Makeda has a feat that improves attack rolls. This is good. She also has an Elite Cadre skill allowing her to improve her Praetorian Swordsmen, so you want to field them with her. But the swordsmen have access to a command attachment that basically does the same as Makeda2's feat. This is also good, when the warriors are unsupported, but they don't stack with the feat. So now her feat is not needed to improve her Elite Cadre warriors on the charge. If you managed to boost the praetorian attacks with the command attachment first, and then with Makedas feat on the next turn, your warriors got a whole lot more efficient. If not, you paid for an option you are not using.
Skorne Theme Forces
Skorne Deep Lore
Far to the east, beyond the great canyon known as the Abyss dwells the warrior people of the Skorne Empire. The most important thing to realize about the Skorne is this; they know exactly what awaits them after death. Ever since the legendary Voksune discovered the secrets of looking beyond death, the Skorne have known that the realm beyond contains nothing but madness and pain. Their worldview is fundamentally based on the idea that death is ultimately a form of failure. The Skorne are determined to cheat death by whatever means they can -- either metaphorically, by having their exploits enter Skorne legend, or literally, by earning the right to have their spiritual essence locked into one of the Sacral Stones in which the Skorne keep the souls of their ancestors. It has also given them a fascination with pain and anatomy, and numerous castes have arisen in Skorne society dedicated to the study of these things. From these studies arose the arts of Mortitheurgy, a necromantic form of blood magic which draws of the energy of the Void beyond death, and Beast Handling, the skills of breeding beasts fit for use as weapons of war. The Skorne civilisation arose under the dominance of the empire of a race called the Lyoss. Skorne history tells us little about the Lyoss, other than the fact that they were a religious people, something the Skorne see as predicting their downfall. When a great cataclysm stretched across western Immoren, the Skorne easily outlasted the Lyoss, and changed from a nomadic lifestyle to a race with an empire of their own. The loosely-affiliated archdominars of the great houses of the Skorne empire happily made war amongst themselves for nearly 250 generations, until the coming of Vinter Raelthorne, the ousted King of Cygnar. Vinter was the first human the Skorne had ever seen. He had crossed the desert and found his way past the Abyss. As they had a fierce respect for his martial prowess, he gained a place among them, and conquered a continuously larger army of Skorne warriors. As such he was able to slaughter his way through the Skorne ranks and establish himself as their Conqueror after his army besieged and secured the great city of Halaak. This ended what the Skorne now refers to as the First Unification War. Vinter was hailed as a Skorne reborn in human flesh, creates the new title the of Supreme Archdominar and told the Skorne that he would lead them back into human lands, granting them a vast new territory for their new empire.
With the aid of Saxon Orrik, the Skorne built bridges across the Abyss dividing Eastern and Western Immoren, and Vinter led an army across them. His campaign failed to return, and the Skorne elders assumed that he had died and so fell back on their old ways. However, Vinter returned once again and assisted by the archdomina Makeda of house Balaash he killed those who had usurped in his abscence. He had realised that his previous campaign was too small and ill-equipped to make a serious dent in the Iron Kingdoms, and so he supervised the militarisation of the entire Skorne nation. They built even mighter engines of war and marched across the Abyss once again, slaying their way through human and trollkin armies alike. However, it was not long after the second invasion that Vinter revealed his betrayal; he had never intended the Skorne to overtake the human lands. Rather, his consolidation of their armies was in the hope that he could retake the throne of Cygnar, and drive the Skorne out of the human nations to consolidate his rule. Fearing the power of the army he had created, Vinter ordered a futile attack on Fort Falk, which ended in a massive rout of his skorne soldiers. Archdomina Makeda learned of Vinter's treachery, and took control of the army, becoming the new Supreme Archdomina. Vinter has fled, and the Skorne are ready to subjugate all of humanity under their rule.