9 months ago we got our first taste of each of the Novice Warcasters that were going to be included the recently released Warmachine: Vengeance. Last week, my batch arrived. I got Allison Jakes and Commander Sturgis for my small Cygnar army and picked up Sturgis the Corrupted and Aiakos for my Cryx army. I’ve never really been one to really dwell on a model that’s not in my hands, and it takes painting a model to really get me to want to use it. Now that Aiakos is in my hands and painted, I’m really ready to get into trying to get him to work.

Aiakos, Scourge of the Meredious

Aiakos, Scourge of the Meredius

Thankfully, Aiakos is amazing.

Aiakos stats

The statline is very good. RAT 5 is expected of most solos that aren’t focused on shooting, and ARM 14 is very good, especially when you consider he has 4 Focus that he can camp.

He also has Fearless, Stealth, Magical melee and ranged weapons, and Jump. Jump gives him some strange and very cool angles of attack and essentially an 11.5″ walking threat.  Drag, on the harpoon, gives him even more threat range against some very few targets. They have to be around 16 defense or less, not behind
impassible terrain or models, and not die from a POW 10 hit. While the selection of targets is limited, Warlocks and Warcasters are prime targets. While his pow 12 blade hits aren’t crazy impressive, this is Cryx, and we can change that very quickly.

He also has a pair of spells: Deathbringers and Escort, both of which provide benefits to his battlegroup, including himself. Aiakos Spells

 

So, that’s the rundown on the guy, and he is pretty good as is. As a three point solo, you can’t ask much more from him, and then they threw in four focus to boot.

His ability to boost to hit and damage and buy extra attacks cannot be overstated. I have been disappointed many times by a single roll of snakeyes on a target that must die. Aiakos can ensure that that target dies a horrible death from 16″ away, or from .5″. He also has stealth which, while not infallible, is a pretty good security blanket. With ARM 14 and 4 focus, plus the bonus from Escort, he can easily get to a very decent arm 19.

However, he still dies to anything that can get to him. There is this strange mid ground, around ARM 14, that changes the weapons that will be used to target and kill him. A pow 10 weapon is no longer in range, so you tend to go a bit bigger, and most of those larger guns can boost. A boosted pow 13 kills him on average dice, in the best of circumstances, and that is not even a particularly hard number to reach.

Whats really exciting about the Novice Warcasters is that they can bring a legitimate battlegroup the the table. In Warmachine this is especially useful as many jacks just tax their casters focus stat. In Cryx this is doubly so, as most casters need to toss spells around all over the board, or need to overboost just to survive, so Aiakos brings some interesting, non-taxing options to the table.

Jacks to Consider
Bonejacks:

Helldiver, Scavenger, Stalker, Cankerworm.

Helljacks:

Slayer, Seether, Reaper, Nighmare, Deathjack, Erebus,Corruptor, Malice, Harrower, Desecrator, Leviathan

Colossal:

Kraken.

I purged, immediately, the arc nodes. I didn’t even include them on the list. Of them, only the Ripjaw would really be desirous, and I’d rather take Cankerworm for the same price.

Most conventional wisdom has him running a ranged jack, and that makes sense. The Leviathan keeps him out of harms way, while also allowing the Levithan a SPD 7 and all three focus every turn. The Leviathan can then take advantage of many great Cryx spells including Marked for Death, Black Spot and Crippling Grasp. I don’t really see any issue with this, and it will likely be the best method of play for him. If the Levithan gets engaged or ends up in some serious bind he can be there to help clear the path to have him shoot again, and if the Leviathan ends up scrapped, he can start going all predator and collecting heads.

But most of that isn’t all to thrilling. I’ve been using the Leviathan for years. What I really want to try and do is make some neat, new things hum with him. Here are some of the more fanciful ideas I want to try out:

A pair of Stalkers and a pair of Scavengers. Ideally, he’d only bee feeding two of these a round. the stalkers would roam ahead of the group, clearing a path with up to three attacks each at MAT 7 POW 12. With stealth and Extended Control Area, they are able to roam ahead with relative impunity. DEF 16 will keep them safe from enemy reprisal as they go solo hunting. The scavengers and Aiakos would wait in the wings for an opportunity to try and take down big things, between speed 9 with flight and speed 6 with leap, they can get a surprising amount of distance from their starting point. While this mob suffers a bit from high armor, that’s not something that Cryx really worries about.

Harrower. I’ll run the numbers and rules here quickly. Speed 7, Pathfinder, Steady. Boostable RAT 5 gun with Ghost Shot, POW 14 and AOE 3. Reach, Thresher, Soul Taker. Its a simple setup with a ton of upside. On the turn the Harrower goes in, he will create a ton of havoc, and before that, a range 17 Ghost Shot gun is no joke. Anything that does not have stealth will explode either from the AOE or from the direct hit. The more I think about this combo, the more I want to paint up my plastic Harrower and get him out on the field.

Malice/Reaper: Normally, the problem with the Reaper, and to a lesser extent Malice, is that they are dependant on a pretty large sum of focus from the caster that could be wasted. Boosting to hit and damage to ensure the drag is a real drain on many casters, but not so much with Aiakos. He also grants them a boost to their threat ranges, and makes them a serious contender with his own Harpoon to drag things into the waiting maw of a friendly Terminus, Asphixious, or any other melee focused caster.

I’m really not keen on taking any of the Novice Warcasters with a colossal, and Aiakos is no different. Tying up 19 points into a three point, fairly squishy solo really makes me nervous.

As always, we’ll rate him with every caster. below is my rating scale for a model/unit, respective to the caster I am talking about.
Scale:
0 – I’d never bring this unit with this warcaster, and the unit has heavy negative synergy
1 – I’d bring this only in a gimmicky list centered on this model/units and its in game interactions.
2 – I consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and as a points filler
3- When taking this caster I  debate bringing this model/unit every time
4- When taking this caster, I find it hard to leave home without this model/unit
5- This model/unit is an Auto-include for this caster.

Asphyxious I – Parasite is pretty much the only spell that is really going to benefit Aiakos and his battlegroup. While its not terrible to put scything touch on him, its just as well to go on Asphyxious. There is the added benefit of having a couple drags around to move casters into position so that Asphyxious can float in there an kill them, but overall, not particularly impressive.(3)

Asphyxious II – Again, Parasite is the only spell around that will really increase their usefulness, and Asphyxious II generally needs less dragging around in order to get work done. The clouds can cover for Aiakos and his battlegroup, but being jacks and/or stealth, they rarely need it. (1)

Asphyxious III – Carnage is a real boon to Aiakos and I’d definitely consider the Harrower combo here. Other than that, there isn’t much to write home about.  (4)

Deneghra I – Deneghra I makes everything better, and Aiakos is no exception. Her ability to lock down opponents for a round with her feat, and completely cripple them on the same turn with Crippling Grasp really helps Aiakos make his way into the guts of the enemy. Ghost Walk is sometimes useful but I’d rather not waste three focus on a solo. He works amazingly well in a Denegrha shooting list, toting the Leviathan and taking the place of a Pistol Wraith himself.   (3)

Deneghra II – Deneghra II takes the awesome of Deneghra I to this model and rachets it up to 11. Between Marked for Death and her feat, Aiakos can give the Leviathan 3 RAT 10 pow 13+ shots, with one of them boosted to damage. Just glorious with a Leviathan, and pretty good with a Harrower too. (4)

Skarre I – Aiakos under Skarre I’s feat and Dark Guidance is a monster from hell. He could possibly get 5 attacks, at Mat 6+3d6 at P+S 17 is jut pure glory. Anyone stupid enough to be within 11″ with a landing zone for Aiakos is in for a real treat, Cryx style, and he doesn’t even need any ‘Jacks (5)

Skarre II –Between Black Spot on a target unit for the Harrower or  Leviathan, and Death Ward on either Aiakos or his pet jack, there is a non-zero chance you’ll see this combo pop up. I really like my current Skarre II army, but it is going to have to make room for Aiakos (5)

Goreshade I – Goreshade I does nothign for Aiakos. They cannot be friends. There might be room for a self powered jack, but no, never-mind.   (2)

Gorhshade II –Phantom Hunter is battlegroup only, but I find the thought of Sudden Death on Aiakos to be hilarious.  (3)

Goreshade III – Nothing in Goreshade’s kit beyond his feat turning Aiakos’ target stationary really benefits him. I’d try and avoid this pairing.  (2)

Terminus – Ravager is battlegroup only, but I find the concept of Aiakos helping his big brother Terminus out by fishing for warlocks and Warcasters increasingly compelling. Aiakos trying to use a Harrower to deliver a pile of souls won’t particularly work, so there is some small anti-synergy there.  (1)

The Witch Coven –The feat should ensure the delivery of his payload, curse of shadows allows him to pick targets, and veil of mists allows him to get there. The Coven have a ton of focus, but want to use it all every turn. He relives that burden while also providing a nice fire support base with the Leviathan.  (4)

Mortenebra – Mortenebra wants the jacks to herself. Terminal Velocity, Spectral Steel, Overrun, Interface and Jump start are all battlegroup spells. Sorry Aiakos.  (0)

Venethrax – As a selfish caster, he give a whole lot to Aiakos, however in a Venethrax list, Aiakos is very self sufficient, allowing Venethrax to keep more of his focus as Aiakos wither vaults into the enemy or clears a path.  (3)

Scaverous – Aiakos can use feast of worms and his buddy the leviathan to shoot heavies at POW 17 three times a round. That’s not a terrible move! With Telekinesis and Freezing grip, he really helps Ol’ Scaverous with the focus efficiency he wants while also getting a ranged presence in as well.  (4)

Best Caster: Skarre I. When he runs out of jacks to toss at the enemy to solve problems, he becomes a super solo of unimaginable proportions, and on the Feat turn can really just burn it up.
Worst Caster: Mortenebra. Everything he brings is a detriment to our favorite necrotech, and I can’t really see being that desperate to hamstring myself.

 

Until next time!

Follow me on twitter @SeethingGinger!

 

 

 

 

With the Rest of the Unit Spotlight Series, I’ve finished painting these Banes tonight, and rather than just show off pictures, I’m gonna write a little article about ’em as well!

Off we go with Bane Knights then!

Bane Knights were the greatest force to be reckoned with in MK I, and in MK II, they were brought back into line with the rest of the faction. Bane Thralls took their proper, as many would have it, place as the go to infantry of Cryx. Now they are experiencing a sort of Renaissance in the faction, with many units and abilities now ignoring stealth. There is also a 30 Bane Knight army headed by Skarre that is making its rounds. I, however, will only have the one unit.  This one!

Bane Spartan Group

They were a joy to paint and put together, and I can’t wait to get them on the board when I get together with the guys in April.

Stats!

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
576412168

Its the typical sorry Cryx setup, with victim defensive stats, though the ARM is better. They have the slow Heavy Infantry speed, and  MAT is pretty typical at 6, though its nothing to write home about. They’ve never used RAT in their life, so it doesn’t even count.

However, their below average stat line belies great power, though, as their special rules are very enjoyable, but before we get there, we’ve got the weapon: The Bane Lance, which comes in at a pretty respectable P+S 11, but its the Reach and Weapon Master that make it really hum. With a charge threat range of 10′, and an average damage of 22, 25 on the charge, the Bane Knights represent some serious damage to most jacks and all heavy infantry. Lighter infantry will generally be harder to hit, but that’s what we bring our good friend Bane Lord Tartarus for, but we’ll get to him later.

The back of their card has a number of rules that just keep amplifying the goodness of the unit.
Traits: Undead – again, nothing new to Cryx. Immunity to fear and fleeing and not suffering much from coherency means they get stuck in and don’t budge until you kill the very last one.

Abilities:
Ghostly: This is what makes the choice between Thralls and Knights matter. Bane Knights have the ability to ignore both free strikes and most terrain, enabling them to get into, and out of, wherever on the board they happen to need to go. This flexibility combined with reach and weaponmaster makes the banes a continuous threat to anything within 7″. The addition of Ghostly also tends to free up a number of models in terms of both order of activation and target selection. Arc nodes, Saxon Orrik, Scarlocks and ‘Casters can all either stay home or have to not worry about the Banes. Ghostly is amazing.

Vengeance: Remember when I said they had a slow speed 5? Combined with Ghostly and Reach, Vengeance extends that to the heavens. Tartarus brings it all the way to a reach out and touch you of 15″, ignoring free strikes and difficult terrain. Vengeance giving you that extra 3″ once a model in the unit is destroyed or RFP, forced the opponent to make some difficult choices. They want to remove the whole unit, or almost every model, or leave it be and hope it doesn’t take his legs off. It is not a good place to be in with P+S 11 Weaponmasters.

Spartan Bane Leader

Spartan Bane Leader

These rough and deadly dudes come in at a clean 6/10. While expensive, the ARM16, reach and ghostly really make it worthwhile. The only units really competing for the same points are Blackbanes and Revenant Crew. The Crew we’ve discussed, and Blackbanes performs a significantly different function that its not really a competing slot.

And what role do the Bane Knights Play? The Aggressor. They move in, along with their BFF Tartarus, and threaten to punish anyone coming within their threat range. with Vengeance and Tartarus’ Death Toll ability being able to replenish the Knights if even one is left really puts the pressure on the opponent. They have to remove every model and most likely Tartarus, or suffer dearly for the expenditure of resources.

I’ve really found a lot of good use with the unit as a bullet sponge, absorbing the damage that other units would take on the turn they are removed from the game. They are so good at what they do that the opponent has to try and remove the unit when you give them the opportunity, so use it to your advantage.

Their MAT 6 makes them generally armor breakers, and sometimes troop killers, but rarely both. However, they do have the backup of the Cryx army and Tartarus. Many casters can get their MAT up to 10 or higher, again with Tartarus.

They are everything that a Cryx unit should be. Bad stats, great weapon, good rules, and when added to a casters arsenal, brings their board state closer and closer to 11.

So, Lets take a trip through the casters again, shall we. I expect very different results this time than last.

A reminder of the scale, again: 0 – I’d never bring this unit with this warcaster, and the unit has heavy negative synergy
1 – I’d bring this only in a gimicky list centered on this model/units and its ingame ineractions.
2 – I’s consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and as a points filler
3- When taking this caster I  debate bringing this model/unit every time
4- When taking this caster, I find it hard to leave home without this model/unit
5- This model/unit is an Auto-include for this caster.

 

Asphyxious I – As I said about the Pirates, I also say about the Knights. Scything touch and Parasite make a great combo for any melee unit. This time, it pushes the number extremely hard, as an effective 17 weaponmaster is no joke. Gunning from across the table at speeds up to 15″ they really can protect Asphyxious as he bounces around the board, teleporting and stealing souls.  (3)

Asphyxious II – What once was an automatic include into this army with the ability to go incorporal and a garunteed +2 MAT and charge range against the caster is, now still an autoinclude. When it comes to getting work done on the feat turn, nothing quite sings so beautiful as your full 8 man unit of Knights backed up by the 2 Bane Thralls dropping dark shroud on the targets. I’ve been able to swing many games just by having the feat exist with banes on the board. With Parasite to up their damage, Clouds to protect on the way in, and Excarnate to make more once the Biles are out of the picture, Asphyxious II brings the whole package for the Bane Knights.  (5)

Asphyxious III – The Return of Scything Touch is welcomed, but the loss of Parasite is not. Him and Targarus make them very dangerous to high defense troops by using Carnage to bump their MAT to 10. Ashen Veil bumps their defense up a bit, but is better off on a higher defense unit. (4)

Deneghra I – Again, What does Deneghra I not make better? Crippling Grasp and her feat makes them MAT 10 and P+S 15 weaponmasters. Tartarus and an errant Bane Thrall can push it to 12 MAT and 17 weaponmaster, and man can that trash some models. Ghost Walk does nothing for them specifically, but their innate Ghostly makes it so that she has at least two units in the list that are going to be ignoring terrain every turn. (4)

Deneghra II – Curse of Shadows and her feat allows the enemy nowhere to escape. Being able to ignore free strikes, terrain and a single unit for positioning in order to line up the strike on the following turn is brilliant. Ghostly paired with Marked for Death means that you can charge through buildings and from the other side of the forest, all while moving your MAT up a step. At her very best, she can make the Knights an effective MAT 13 with Tartarus around, and most things that are that high on the curve to necessitate a 13 don’t have the armor to withstand the assault. If you really manage to pull it off, the Feat+Marked for Death+ Dark Banishment setup can really mess peoples day up. (3)

Skarre I – Along with Asphyxious II, Skarre was the original MKI poster child for Knights. With her Sac Strike going off of modified armor, her feat allowed a 12, no LOS required Boostable pow 21 damage roll. There weren’t many casters that could survive that type of damage. Now, Sac Strike might as well not be on her card, but the Knights still him with her as well as any. P+S 16 weaponmasters at ARM 21 with Vengeance and Ghostly are nothing to be laughed at. With Dark Guidance to buffer out their MAT, its hard to leave home without ’em (4)

Skarre II – Skarre II really brings only a few things to the party for the Knights. Without any armor debuff, she has little to offer them beyond Black Spot. Now, that one unit will go into the dirt like a mole, but you can accomplish the same thing with ranged attacks and not risk the Melee. Death ward is nice, as Knights with ARM 18 can shrug off even some of the harder anti-infantry measures out there, but its generally on the Deathjack or the Leviathan to keep it safe.   (3)

Goreshade I – Goreshade provides nothing to any of his troops. On the one hand, that means that can’t help them go from good to great. On the other, though his feat means you’ve got Tartarus along, and Knights go great with Tartarus. They are also pretty self sufficient, with terrain mitigation and the ability to punish the enemy with Vengance.  (3)

Gorhshade II – Goreshade II loves him some Banes and is almost never without his good buddy Tartarus. with Occultation to provide stealth, Curse of Shadows to aid in the damage output, and Sudden Death for stupid shenanigans, he’s got the support package to get them their alive and in one piece. I tend to go with the double Bane Thralls, but they are always a consideration.  (4)

Goreshade III – Occultation is back again, and Mockery of Life on these guys just makes Vengeance that much sweeter. Scything Touch adds a touch of a damage swing, to push them over the edge. I don’t know where they will sit in his list eventually, but I expect it will be a constant consideration.  (2)

Terminus – Who doesn’t like tough Bane Knights? who doesn’t like tough Bane Knights that can take a bullet for Terminus and then trigger vengeance along the way? Oh, right, your opponent. While Terminus has almost no spell support to offer any of his infantry, what the Bane Knights bring for him is worth the price of admission. (4)

The Witch Coven – Occultation‘s been talked about. I should just remove it from further discussions about her. Veil of Mists, however, combined with Ghostly’s immunity to free strikes, really hits home in manners of maneuverability. Curse of Shadows, as well, allows them both maneuverability and hitting power. Stygian Abyss, while usually an assassination tool, can be really good at letting the Knights drop a Circle or Legion heavy that is blocking the road. The feat, as well, enables the Knights to get close enough to do the dirty work, and its something I really appreciate.  (4)

Mortenebra – Mortenebra should be right up there with Goreshade I so I get this done with all at once. Nothing other than the feat is good for the troops in her army.They’ve again got the self sufficient theme going on, but she’s generally going to want to bring more Jacks or jack support.   (2)

Venethrax – Yes, here is my boy. A specific timing interaction makes the Bane Knights one of his best infantry choices. Vengeance and the resulting attacks happen before both replenishment of Focus and the conversion of souls to focus, so Soul Harvester to get  a ton of work done here. I bring them to every game.  (5)

Scaverous – Scaverous’s Winters Grasp and Telekenesis shinanigans can really turn the Bane Knights to 11, but there are so many things he wants to take with him that its generally hard to fit anything not specifically dedicated to his feat. None the less, these guys can do a very respectable job with him, and I keep meaning to fit them into a list somehow.  (3)

Bane 4

Best Caster: Asphyxious II. His feat is still pure gold for them, and the threat of that feat going off and removing one or more of your valuable models from the board at one go is no joke.

Worst Caster: Mortenebra. The unit, while good, costs to much for her to really get use out of them. They would still be useful and you’d probably be happy you brought them, but then again, you could have had a Leviathan.

Results: Boy, Bane Knights are pretty bad ass. They take the typical Cryx approach of average or lesser stats, but when you add the Warcaster in to bring the enemy down to their level, they really shine bright. With Tartarus to support them, and with Tartarus I find it hard to leave the Thralls at home. That is a large chunk of points, though. 25 can be a whole game all by itself. When it gets rolling, though, there isn’t much out there that can really give em a run for their money.

Bane Knights: 8/10