Last Wednesday, I was invited over to a friends garage for a game against a mutual friends Epic Morvahna list. Their group is practicing for a local team tournament at the end of June, and they wanted to see how the Circle players list stacked up against Cryx. Since the Circle player was also their Cryx player, they had to bring in a ringer. Thats where I came in. Always happy to help, and most importantly, needing to drop a commission model off to get paid for it, I cheerfully agreed to pit my current theories against this current scourge of the game. Its been almost a week, so  I may not get all of the exact details right, but the gist of the game is correct. I’m sure my opponent will make sure to amend anything out of place. A special thanks, as well, to JoeyB for all the pictures!

both of our lists were interestingly designed, and I definitely wouldn’t call them the standard cookie cutter tournament variety. I was eager, but still held a little  trepidation, to bring my Coven Jam Theory list against one of the more powerful casters in the game. I had gone through a few evolution’s from prior games,  and I’d learned that you needed to back up your Jam with some Punch. I introduced Bane Thralls into the list to try and break any armor I’d encountered, while I’d pulled out the Soulhunters. As much as I love them, they are just to expensive to throw away in this list, and I thought that the Satyxis and the Blackbanes would be good enough. I’d also discovered that two arc nodes just haven’t cut it.  My opponents were wary of the Covens prowess, and dedicated plenty of energy to make sure the arc node required on each flank to get my army delivered was crushed. The third Arc node in the middle, to wait for the perfect time to deliver the final blow, really made the list satly.  After all the tweaking, the list looked like this:

Jam Theory Advanced
The Witch Coven of Gharlghast+5
-Egregore0
-Scarlock2
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Deathripper4
Bane Lord Tartarus4
War Witch Siren2
War Witch Siren2
Satyxis Raiders (10)8
-Satyxis Sea Witch2
Bane Thralls (10)8
-Officer and Standard3
Blackbanes Ghost Raiders (6)6
Bile Thralls (6)5
-Scarlock Commander1

and his list was:

Circle Opposition
Morvahna the Dawnshadow+5
-Gorax4
-Woldwrath20
Gallows Grove1
Gallows Grove1
Reeve Hunter2
Tharn Whitemane3
Warwolf1
Warwolf1
Warwolf1
Warpborn Skinwalkers (5)8
-Warpborn Alpha3
Reeves of Orboros (10)10

I arrived a little late and suggested we play Outflank – Still practicing as best I can for spelldraft, and the scenario is easy to set up. He was amenable, and we set it up. The terrain was a little sparse (afterward, they mentioned that it looked like two walls got plucked off accidentally, would have made the board less sparse), with a forest on the edge of each scenario zone the left forest close to my opponents deployment, the right forest close to mine, and a fairly large statue between my left zone and deployment.

He won the roll, and here I think made his biggest mistake, before we even put models to the table – He choose to go second. One of the biggest problems I think my list will have is going second. With the Jam List needing to be on the opponents side of the board to give the coven room to breathe and play scenario, it becomes much trickier going second. He also had a gargantuan, which he had to pre-deploy. Again, here going second assisted me greatly, as I was able to set up my Bane Thralls counter to his big mamma jamma.

Deployment
He pre-deployed the Woldwrath fairly center, a touch towards my left zone.

I deployed the coven slightly right-center. I didn’t want to be zorted by the Woldwraths AOE, and needed some room. I deployed Blackbane to the right, a Nightwretch and Warwitch Siren over there to assist. The Bile Thralls and Scarlock Commander surrounded the Coven, and I put the massive Bane Thrall unit centrally with Tartarus closer to the coven, able to react to both zones if necessary. The banes could also be pointed right at the Woldwrath, hoping to bite axes deep into stone and wood. A touch behind the coven was the Deathripper, hoping to sit pretty until the time came to deliver the game. the other Nightwretch and Siren took the far edge of my deployment, next to the Banes and staring into the left zone with the Scarlock. Ghostly might be needed on the Banes if I decided to run to the left.

He deployed the Skinwalkers to my right, across from Blackbane and the scenario Zone. The Whitemane also took to this side of the board with Morvahna and a Warwolf. To the other side he put the Reeves, behind the forest. . they’d have no problems shooting into my army from that position. He gave them two Warwolves to assist, and the Hunter solo. The Gorax took its proper position behind the Woldwrath, next to Morvanna.

I advance deployed my Satyxis across from this Reeves: Between Stealth and Def 16 v. Shooting, I was pretty much guaranteed to get the drop on his Reeves. I really needed to get a point or two from that zone before the Woldwrath got there.

He deployed his Gallows Groves my right side to combat both the tough of the Banes and, unbeknownst to me, drop Death Knell into Incorporeal models.

With that, we shook hands and got to business.

Turn 1

Turn 1

Tactics – Jam was in full effect! I allocated one point to the Deathripper behind the Coven, and started the turn running almost everything. Blackbanes ran into the rightmost zone, covered by the Bile Thralls.The Banes glided to the center, with Tartarus leading the way – I knew that there was very little that could even reach Tartarus, much less kill him, in this list, and with his RFP preventing feat shenanigans and creating more banes to boot, I was willing to risk any surprise retaliation.  The Scarlock moved up and put Occultation on the Satyxis, who ran into the left most zone and beyond, making a bee line for the Reeves. the Nightwretch and Siren pairs both power-boosted and ran behind my lines in order to be ready to deliver spells to whatever portion of the board needed assistance or a crushing blow. The Coven themselves advanced a bit, but not to much, up the board. They dropped a Veil of Mists on a trio of Satyxis to protect them from the Woldwraths gun a bit, and cast Infernal Machine on the Deathripper.

His turn was a little subdued and he made, I think, the second mistake of the game. We talked about it afterward and agreed that he should have played his Reeves more aggressive in order to contest the left zone. Instead, he drew up a firing line behind the forest with them. a Warwolf ran up into position in the forest to try and bite a Raider but failed. Woldwrath ran to threaten both zones, getting into position right outside the left zone. The Skinwalkers ran up and  into the right-center of the board, gearing for a clash with Tartarus and the Bane Thralls. The Whitemane followed slightly behind. The Reeve hunter moved up between the Woldwrath and the Reeves to provide support. The first Gallows Grove, much to my chagrin, teleported itself within 8″ of my lead Ghost Raider. The other simply slipped up a small amount. Morvahna then moved up, catching the Gallows Grove in her control area, and channeled a Death Knell into the Blackbanes. She managed to catch Blackbane himself due to terrible positioning, along with two standard grunts. She promptly detonated all three. I’d placed them very poorly and was not going to suffer because one of my jam units was more of a jam trio. The Gorax was the last to move, sauntering behind the Woldwrath. The Morvanna had left herself with a single fury after cutting to destroy a Ghost Raider and healing it back. She’d also taken three damage for rerolls, though I don’t remember what from. It didn’t matter, she would heal all three my next turn.

Turn 2

Turn 2

Looking at the board, I knew I had a shot at Morvahna. It wasn’t good, though, and hinged on whether or not the Warwitch Siren was 8″ from a Nightwretch, through the woods. I didn’t gamble, and even though it meant only two boosted Stygian Abyss‘ into her, I figured I’d take the chance and just allocate to the node.  Much less risky than failing because I can’t judge distance. I moved the Nightwretch over next to the Gallows grove and tossed Curse of Shadows on the Skinwalkers to even the score once engaged. Tartarus charged into the leftmost Skinwalkers, trying to get two, but only reached one. He did, however, catch a Warwolf. With a single thresher, he brought a pair of Bane Thralls, and denied two feat targets. He’d also cleared the lane for the Arc node to wander up and get within range of Morvahna. She’d only advanced up a touch, but on turn 2, the Coven can get an arcnode to threaten Abyss up to (7+14+14+10) 49 Inches into the board. I drove the remaining three Blackbanes into the Skinwalkers to threaten Free Strikes. Pow 10 Mat 6 isn’t terribly impressive, but Auto-fire free strikes aren’t anything to be trifled with. I moved the Biles into the right hand zone to make sure I’d hold it forever as  even Skinwalkers aren’t fans of bile thralls, especially suffering from Curse of Shadows. I sent the Satyxis running and charging into both the Warwolves and the Reeves. I managed to pick a few off, but I also tried very hard to mix up the area in front of the Woldwrath so it couldn’t trample – If he got into the zone I was going to be hard pressed to remove him. At this point, I had cleared all the order of activation issues and the path to Morvahna. I moved the Arc node into range, staying out of melee range of the Whitemane, the Woldwrath and everything else around. I easily had range and dropped a boosted to hit stygian abyss into her, getting a critical hit int he process. Morvahna, unless she found some strange magics, was pinned in place. even purification can’t get rid of that! to top it off, I boosted damage, having already hit and pinned her in place, dealing 7. She transfered to the Gorax, and I bottomed out my focus, and did another 7 damage to her unboosted. Satisfied, I ran the bane thralls up to further prevent tramples and charge into one of the Skinwalkers and a Gallows Grove. I succeeded in taking them both out, but they could come back with the feat. Pinned in place, with only two feat targets, I wasn’t terribly frightened yet. For my last few activations I moved the one coven member out of the way and let the Egregore run into nearly the center of the board. I popped my feat, after some careful measuring from the Egregore to the Woldwrath, felt pretty confident. I controlled both zones, but he had to go before I could score points.

He had his eye on Tartarys, and charged in with the Skinwalkers, who were either out of the feat or within 5″ of Tartarus, heedless of the fire-causing back strikes. I killed one, but managed to leave the other perfectly alive. My free strikes made me corporeal, so the alpha and back line Skinwalker were able to finish off the Ghost Raiders unit, even at DEF 15 under the feat. Tartarus fared better, taking a few damage but surviving due to his newly minted DEF 15. He teleported his final Gallows Grove over to deny tough to the Banes nearby and get into range for channeling a Death Knell near Tartarus. Woldwrath, unable to clearly determine if his trample path was clear, declared and failed. He bought attacks against the poor Satyxis he was engaged with, though the feat prevented even a single Raiders death. The Reeves ran and charged into the Satyxis, trying to take as many of them down as they could before begin whipped to death, and proceeded to do fairly well, killing a pair. The remaining wolf and the Reeve Hunter followed suit, though they, too, failed to connect.  The Whitemane moved up and smacked at the arc node that had shot Morvahna, but I’ve heard that DEF 17 is pretty hard to hit unboosted. Morvahna took her turn, lobbing her promised Death Knell at her own models and catching Tartarus in the blast, but failed to kill him even with re-rolls. She’d done a good job of cutting her self to try and get ahead, and left herself with 9. She couldn’t afford to pop her feat, and didn’t have many targets had she wanted to.
At the end of the turn, he was unable to get anyone into the right hand zone, and I scored a Control Point.

Turn 3

Turn 3

I’m not gong to lie, I was feeling pretty confident at this point. I had an unconteseted 3 points, and felt like I was going to clear the right side of the board. Woldwrath bothered me, but I felt that if I could bring enough Bane Thralls to bear on it, it’d only be a problem for a turn or two.
The raiders quickly cleared out the two models that were contesting their zone, the Warwolf and the Reeve Hunter, and moved to allow as many Banes into Woldwrath as was possible. Tartarus cleaved a skinwalker down, making another bane, and I sent the Banes Crashing into the construct, but really failed to do as much damage as I’d wanted. I’m, used to banes swinging the ARM of a target by four, but due to spell ward they had to work it on their own and just couldn’t cut it. The Siren on the right side gave out a focus to the closest arc node, who proceeded to run around the edge of the combat, drawing bead on Morvahna again. I ran one of the Coven, staying in Perfect Conjunction formation, to toe into the uncontested right zone. I followed up by pulling  the Egregore back into formation to get Perfect Conjunction once again. with 8 focus, I lobbed a trio of Stygian Abysses at her, with a critical again on the second shot. She had but a single transfer again, and this time I dropped her to 3. The Bile Thralls held put, and I passed the turn, getting three more points.

With a shake of his head and an extended hand, the game ended on scenario there. With Morvahna pinned in place and with so little health that she couldn’t pop her feat for a scenario play, it was all over except for the drinking.

Thoughts.

the Dawnshadow is a nasty ‘caster!

While there were mistakes on both sides, I feel I played my game this time. The dice didn;t completely fail my friend, though that was partially due to me pushing the numbers so high. Satyxis get Def 16, and possibly up to 18 against shooting. Blackbanes become def 15 Incorporeal, and even the lowly Bane Thralls and Tartarus become difficult to hit.

The more I think about it, the more I become convinced that I don’t need Tartarus in this list. Yes, he was invaluable here, but many times the banes are playing mop up. They don’t need the extra speed because of either the feat or the enemy being tangled in engagements. With the Bile thralls and CRA Satyxis, I have enough to deal with most high defense targets, so they won’t be attacking many infantries. Instead, I am going to be using them to remove armor from the board, and they do that just fine without Tartarus.

with that, I’m considering replacing the Blackbanes, Tartarus and the Scarlock Commander  with Bane Riders. With the same speed, 5 wounds,ghostly and ARM 18 they can get to the same places that Blackbanes can, however, they have a much higher MAT due to curse being integral to the unit. MAT 8, 10 on the Charge is very good, with a pile of impact attacks, and even Curse of Shadows to stop them from being tied up.  We’ll see what happens here in the next few days, but I think its going to be good!

The rules for the Cephalyx have been spoiled!

I really like when new things shake up the foundation of the game, but I also like when new, crazy things are released just for the fun of it. Enter the Cephalyx, here to take your mind and enslave it for their purposes.

 

The spoilers that I’ve been perusing, which are the same on Focus and Fury, Muse on Minis and Privateer Press, are very interesting. It very much seems that their playstyle is going to be a combination of Protectorate and Cryx. Everything in the list can be dangerous, and they are combining together to make a superpowerd cannon of death.

Lets get to it!

Exulon

Exulon Thexus

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
6454141410

Focus:8
Health: 15
Warjack Points: +5

Pathfinder
Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity]
Aggressive Reaction: While one or more enemy models are in this models command range, Models in this model’s battlegroup can run or charge without spending focus

Spell Driver:When this model casts a spell, it can channel the spell through another model in its battlegroup that is in its control area. Once a spell is cast this way, the model it was channeled through suffers d3+1 damage points.

Spell List

  • Deceleration
  • Hex Blast
  • Influence
  • Psycho Surgery
  • Rampager
  • Telekinesis

Feat: Telekinetic Tide: Push each enemy non-Warlock, non-Warcaster model currently in Thexus’ control area 2″ in any direction.

Ok, man! what a pile of rules! This guy has a ton of neat, control based craziness that I just love, especially seeing as I’ve been playing the coven recently, and they have kinda the opposite shtick: The Coven delivers your army, and Thexus wreaks hell on the incoming army. While his defensive stats are pretty poor, deceleration does a lot to protect you from enemy ranged threats, bumping both his armor and his defense up by 2. Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity] pushes that threat down even lower, having an ARM 17, 36 HP model right next to you to eat whatever bullets do make it past your Def 16. You do sacrifice a single potential arm point, but with the rest of the army also benefiting from the +2/+2 within the massive 16″ control area, it won’t really matter, even pushing the Monstrosities armor up to 19, making most gunshots simply a flesh wound.

Psycho Surgery further amplifies the ability for the army to simply shrug off guns. It also makes the Monstrosities function thematically similar to warbeasts, and by spending 2 focus, he heals not only himself up to 4 wounds, but also his entire battlegroup. Convenient for the turn that you end up eating a few shots and taking a little damage all around due to Deceleration, Sacrificial Pawn, and a few Spell Driver rolls.

Rampager, Telekinesis, and Influence all demonstrate Thexus’ complete control over the minds of others. TK is considered one of the best spells in the game, and the combinations that this can engender with the models in the Cephalyx army are just crazy. Backstrike bonus’ nearly all the time, especially for the Monstrosities – If your in charge range, your in TK range, and your most likely going to be turned around to get pounded from behind. Rampager is just a continued play on the theme. Pulling a Warbeast not only forward, but out of control area and likely facing their own army for the inevitable frenzy is going to be a glorious day. Influence is generally a dead spell, but the ability to combine it with TK means that you can, very likely, slide the model you want into just the right spot to hack down up to 6 of his friends, Very likely with the backstrike bonus on all of the influences for an effective attack roll of 10! You could even set up a caster to be hit by a back strike of his own models up to 6 times! The possibilities are endless! With a run of 10″ and a spell range of 8″, on a heavy warbeast that can trample, it can be very possible to get the drop on enemy casters.

Have I been talking about how good Telekinesis is? Oh, I have? How about 16″ of TK in every direction! do you want to set up that chain of gorgeous influences? Do you want to have a great target for Rampager, or even that fantastic Hex Blast? Great! because his feat is all of that! Now, it does take a bit more finesse than just using TK, but the two combined can be just amazing. Once you TK the enemy to face his own army, Thexus’s Feat Telekinetic Field will just be an additional 2″. I really think this feat it going to be ball busting. Between moving models out of zones and breaking up any form of LOS blocking or positioning that the opponent was using, its just going to be a nightmare.

Unlike both Convergence and Retribution, this army looks to be sticking on me. Its part of an army I already own and play, and seems to have both a cool play style and ascetic.

While the Warcaster looks good, that is to be expected. Whats really cool is that the rest of the army, as spoiled, looks very cool as well.

The Monstrosities are the star of the show, however. Cheap, moderately durable models with a modest damage output. Exulon starts the game with three options: offensive, defensive and utility.

First, the offensive
The Wrecker

Monstrosity 3

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Weapon- 2x POW:8 P+S 17
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Reach
  • Beatback
  • Chain Weapon
  • Chain Attack: Bloodbath

For a mere 7 points, this guys is a complete steal. Two reach P+S 17 attacks with Chain weapon is great for taking down those pesky medium base, high wound troopers. Beat back is going to ensure, as well, that he can eat all or nearly all of them in a turn. Given how good beat back is on the Bronzeback, who does not have reach, I can only extrapolate how well its going to be on the Wrecker. While his MAT 5 will keep him from realizing the greatest of potentials, its still going to be good enough (stay tuned for the Agitator!) . Being able to load this guy up with 3 focus and get 6 attacks at base P+S 17 is just going to be a joy.

Next up we have the Subduer

Monstrosity 1

 

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Net Launcher- RNG 6 ROF 1 AOE 3
Weapon - POW 6, P+S 16

 

  • Eyeless Sight

Net Launcher

  • Catch: If this weapon directly hits an enemy model with an equal or smaller base, Immediatly after the attack is resolved the model directly hit can be pushed any distance directly toward this model. After the Model directly hit is moved, this model can make on normal melee attack against it. After resolving this melee attack, this model can make additional melee attacks during its combat action.
  • Quake

This guy is actually one of my favorites, as much as his range on his weapon is terrible. The possibility of rampagering a heavy into range of the Subduer, having him shoot it in the back, knock it down, and drag it over to the heavy to get pummeled to death is really a pleasant thought. The AOE on the gun is neat, because it acts as an AOE knockdown, under certain circumstances, and then will pull the model hit over to the Subduer, as above. Catch is a very neat rule, being a much less focus intensive version of Drag, albeit on a much slower platform. Not having to damage is just a really good upgrade. I like the little guy! and for only 7 points!

The last, defensive minded, Monstrosity
The Warden!

Monstrosity 2

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U6
Weapon: 3x POW 4 P+S 14
  • Grand Slam
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Follow up
  • Shield Guard
  • Buckler +1
  • Hard Head
  • 2 open fists

This fellow looks down right the coolest. With the facemask and the clamp-hands, he just has mean written all over his model. He isn’t the greatest rules complexity wise, but I know the rules he has well. I’ve played with Titan Gladiators for years, and the potential of a Grand Slam + Follow Up has kept opponents on their back feet the whole time. At SPD 5, he is slightly slower than the SPD 6 Gladiator, but again that is mitigated by TK and the Feat, when needed. Shield Guard existing for those few times you want to save a particular grunt, solo or leader is going to be invaluable. He’ll be staying behind the front lines just a touch, waiting for his chance to dig in there, knock something down, and have one of his brethren go in there and beat it to a pulp.

I’m really starting to feel the faction Contract has a lot more shenanigans, and its going to make it a freaking blast to play, and I’ve only gotten through the Warcaster and Monstrosities!

There is a Unit and two more solos in the Contract that we have the spoilered rules for, and one of them is the lynchpin of the whole setup.
enter, the Agitator

Cephalyx 9

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413932
Weapon- POW:5 P+S 11
  • 5 health
  • Pathfinder
  • Fearless
    Anatomical Precision
  • Magic ability 7
    Influence
    -Instigate(star action) while within 5″ of this model, friendly drudge and monstrosity models gain + 2 on attack and damage rolls. Instigate last for one turn
    -Psychic Assault(star attack) SP 8 pow 12 that ignores LOS
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Monstrosity]

He has, right off the bat a good suite of rules, but I expect that nothing will compare to his Instigate Action. The ability to tune your Drudges and your Monstrosities up will be nothing short of awesome. Your Monstrosities go from ho-hum to very, very good. Wreckers are MAT 7, P+S 19, Subduers RAT 6, Wardens MAT 7 with 3 P+S 16 attacks. with the Agitator in play, it is unlikely that we will be boosting to hit on all but the most elusive targets, and for that we have headbutt, quake, and Telekinesis. Very little is going to be escaping the clutches of our heavies or our infantry.

The second solo is the extremely fun Dominator, a Unit attachment for Merc units to allow them into the army.

dominator

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413911
  • 5 Health
  • Mercenary Attachment – Can be added to a small or medium based non-cephalyx mercenary Unit.
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Anatomical Precision
  • Granted: Fearless
  • Granted: Tough
  • Linchpin – When this model is destroyed or removed from play, all other models in this unit lose fearless for one round and immediately flee
  • Ranking Officer
  • Sacrificial Pawn[models in this unit]

His entire purpose in life is to grab a good mercenary unit and toss it into the Cepahlyx army to make them fight for him. Among the great contenders are Nyss Hunters who add a significant ranged element, Boomhowler who adds a serious tarpit – though it wastes tough, Steelheads to form a wall of cheap, difficult to remove models, and Alexia – a fan favorite for all the living models that the army will have. While the punishment for getting him killed is rather severe, keeping him safe with Sacrificial Pawn, a Warden, and proper placement shouldn’t be any thing difficult. Push comes to shove you can always TK him to the proper position.

Lastly, there is a new unit for the army.

Behold, the Cephalyx Mindbender!

Mind Bender

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
56641413926 models:4
10 models:6
Weapon: 2x POW 2 P+S 8
Drudge Grunt
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
585211154
Weapon: POW 4 P+S 12
  • 5 Health
  • Fearless
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Magic Ability 6
    -Adrenal Flood(* action) Rng 6 target Drudge Grunt gains +4 MAT and STR and can immediately advance 4″
    -Concussion pulse(*action) center a 4″ AOE  on this model or a grunt the spell is channeled through. Other models in the AOE suffer a pow 12 magical dmg roll
    -Psychic Assault
    Psychic Projection: This model can channel through grunts in this unit that are in formation. When it does, you can choose up to two more of those grunts and cast the spell once through each, even if the channeler is engaged. Grunts in this unit that channel a spell this way are then removed from play
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Drudge Grunt]

Grunts:

  • Eyeless Sight
  • Fearless
  • Tough

Now this is a cool unit! It can spray almost everywhere, detonate piles of clustered up troops, conveniently put there from the feat, and can roid rage a trio of Drudges into P+S 18. MAT 11 monsters.  There is very little not to like from the unit, and with a combination of proper use of Spells and Feat, I don’t think much infantry will live, and Armor based models have a lot to fear as well. Under excellent circumstances, you could pull a caster  backwards into the oncoming hugs of three of these little guys and end the game right then and there.

Finally, the Cephalyx aren’t anyone’s mercs, and every one of them has the Selective rule. They can only be brought in a list that specifies them as participants, and the Contract Puppet Masters is exactly that:
-Can include Mercenary Cephalyx units, and up to one Mercenary unit, provided it has the Dominator Attachment.
FA of Slavers + drudges and Overlords are increased by 1 ea.
In addtion, the Mercenary unit with the Dominator gains AD, And the army can take Bloat Thralls, Pistol Wraiths, and Machine Wraiths that are all considered Mercenary models for the game, instead of Cryxian.

I am very excited and glad I’ll be at lock and load. I will very likely be trying to score an art print of the Cephalyx in order to get it framed like my Kraken!

 

 

 

As a follow up to the Tier List concept I’d talked about a little bit back, and as a further discussion to the battles I mentioned a little after that, I’ve managed to get a  few games with the Coven, and am starting to think a lot about how to get them to work both well and consistently. Though they aren’t considered competitively powerful in MKII, they, along with the Bloat Thrall and the Machine Wraith, were bif factors into why I ended up picking Cryx back in 2006. Sadly, all three took a large hit in MK II.

The Witch Coven still grabs me, though. They represent everything I want in a spell slinging faction: plenty of Focus giving them a huge control area, an impressive spell list, and a magnificent feat. They are, however, unbelievably fragile, with complicated activation considerations and huge blocks of rules that make them fairly intimidating to parse out.

But using challenging casters is nothing new to me. I’ve always gravitated toward sub par models and units – the challenge of getting them to work is something I really enjoy. There are times, like with Revenant Crew, when it is not really worth the effort, but most times I find a comfortable niche that the model excels at and end up pleasantly surprised.

Without further ado, Lets get started, shall we?

The Witch Coven of Gharlghast, Cryx Warcaster!

Witch Coven

I’ll want to just delve completely into their rules, as Context is going to be key to figuring out what is going on.If you’re already familiar with the Covens rules, head on down to the concepts  here.

The Coven consists of four separate models: Hellenana, Morgaen, and Selene, the three witch sisters, and the Egregore, their giant necromechanical relic orb. Each model has its own statline, though the witches are the identical to each other.

Witch
SPDSTRMATRATDEF ARMCMD
645416128
Egregore
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
61111317-

As you can see, none of it is incredibly impressive. DEF 16 is good, but ARM 12 is abysmal. Their CMD and MAT are both on the lower side of bad, and to cap all off, each of them has only 8 wounds. Though It does make for a 24 HP caster under certian specific circumstances, its not particularly pleasing to see on  the card. Oh, and don’t forget that they do have weapons, though they are a measly P+S 7.But its the rest of the card that matters. Like the fact that they don’t have have a focus stat. Instead, they have the following rule:

Coven – The Witch Coven of Garlghast shares a single focus pool, and Witches do not receive focus individually. The Covens base FOCUS is three times the number of Witches in play. When the Coven replenishes its focus, the Egregore receives those focus points. The Covens control area is measured from the Egregore. Any Witch in the Coven’s control area can spend focus points on the Egregore. The Egregore cannot be affected by focus-reducing or focus-removing effects. Each focus point on the Egregore gives each Witch in the Coven’s control area a cumulative +1 ARM. Effects that ignore focus points overboosting the target’s Power Field also ignore this bonus. The Coven can use their feat only once.

The Coven rule gives them a focus of 9 for most of the game, and if something untoward  happens, it could possibly get down to 6 or even as low as 3, though its unlikely. The rule also makes the Coven immune to Eiryss’s disruption bolts portions of Reznik and Severius’s feats, Kaelyssa and Rasks Energy Siphon attacks, and a host of other abilities. In addition, it means that each model is a separate activation. with the advent of Warcaster Units, this can throw some people off. Each Witch, and the Egregore, activate separately, giving a great range of crazy interactions to the entire Coven. Having the Egregore, an independant model as well,  as the central point of the feat means that Nightfall is much more likely to reach where you need it while keeping the individual Witches fairly safe.

There are two other abilities that combine make the Coven a rules headache for newer players, but also completely unique in the scheme of Warcasters: Arcane Nexus and Perfect Conjunction.

Arcane Nexus – When a Witch casts a spell, the Egregore is the spell’s point of origin. The Witch must have LOS to her target, but the Egregore does not. All LOS modifiers are based on the LOS of the Witch. Witches can channel spells normally. The Coven can have up to one attached model; This model is attached to the Coven, not to an individual Witch. The Coven can have only one of each of their upkeep spells in play at a time.

Perfect Conjunction – A Perfect Conjunction is established anytime the Egregore is completely within the Triangular area between all three Witches and each Witch has LOS to each other witch. During a Perfect Conjunction, reduce the COST of spells cast by a Witch by 1.

So, what does all of that mean in non-rules speak? It means that when a Witch casts a spell, it actually originates from the Egregore, not from the Witches themselves. Though the Witch must be able to see the target, everything else eminates from the Egregore. This allows, in desperate times, the Witches to circumvent cover, stealth or other similar Line of Effect based rules to win the game

In addition to the Witches, the Egregore has its own set of rules. Stealth, Pathfinder and Construct, as well as Circular Vision, Steady and Companion make up the fairly common rules that allow it to wander around the board pretty much unhindered, as you would expect from a strange floating magical Orb. It has two additional rules that affect the Coven and how they play: Black Mantle and Sympathetic Link.

Black Mantle – While in B2B with this model, friendly Faction models gain Stealth.

Sympathetic Link – When this model would suffer damage, you must assign that damage to one or more Witches instead, divided as you choose. A Witch cannot be assigned more damage points that she has unmarked damage boxes. This model does not suffer the damage assigned to a Witch.

Black mantle is used to moderately protect the coven while in perfect conjunctions. while its not required to be in B2B, the Witches have nothing but their 16 DEF to protect them at that point, so stealth is better then nothing, and is very good many times. When its bad, though, its exceptionally bad.

Sympathetic Link is a major part of playing the Egregore. With the defensive stats of a Cryx heavy, its only really protected against POW 10’s, with anything higher than POW 12 causing serious discomfort. Thankfully, stealth is a good defense the majority of the time, with the same caveats as above for Black Mantle. The ability to rearrange damage as I see fit, however, means that I have around 21 damage before anything really negative takes effect. Taking damage through the Egregore is actually preferable to taking damage through the Witches do to the redistribution, but is still not something that you should be looking to happen. While its key to keep each Witch alive, keeping the Egregore safe is just as important. its much easier to hit the giant, glowing orb.

We’ve finally come to the spell list and feat, and man, these are good.

Spell List: (hover for complete wording)

  • Curse of Shadows – armor debuff and delivery system
  • Stygian Abyss – direct damage
  • Veil of Mists – control, terrain mitigation and delivery system
  • Infernal Machine – Warjack buff
  • Ghost Walk – positioning aid and delivery system
  • Occultation – delivery system

Its a very, very good spell list for getting the generally vulnerable and low defense models in the Cryx army into the enemy intact, and the same theme is taken into their feat, Nightfall:

While in the Coven’s control area, enemy models suffer -2 MAT and RAT and their LOS is reduced to 5″. Nightfall lasts for one round.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t look like much, but with the massive 18″ control area centered on the mobile and generally sturdy Egregore, it is brutal. Delivering an army with the feat is a fairly simple task thatcan put your opponent on the back foot and really give you a tempo advantage. Most of the time, you want to drop it turn 2, but sometimes its a turn 1 feat, if you and your opponent are both very fast, or you went second and want to see a model or two get to the enemy.

The Egregore is generally sturdy, and fairly safe during the feat, but know any melee tricks that the enemy has. while under the feat, they are going to be looking to take advantage of the Egregore’s relative vulnerability. Make sure you know your opponents walking threat range, as a lack of Line of Sight does not prevent the warpwolf Stalker from walking up 6″ and using reach to pummel you from 8″ out. The same can be said of guns: make sure any guns that can walk out of the feat also don’t have some insane 19″ or better range. strangely, many times its better to get closer to the Sniped or Marshalled defenders so that they can’t walk out and shoot the Egregore. One good set of spiked dice, and your heading for a bad day.

Good, we’ve gotten though the basics of the coven, their rules and a little bit of the thoughts behind them, but in order to make them work, we kinda have to know how they tick. While rules are good, the story is more in the details.

The Coven is an extremely versatile caster that allows you to deliver your army to the enemy with unprecedented flexibility. They have the capacity to either mitigate or completely ignore almost everything on the board. Terrain is taken care of with Ghost walk and Veil of Mists, guns with Nightfall and Occultation, free strikes with Curse of Shadows and Ghost Walk, and alpha strike capacity with Infernal Machine, Nightfall, and Stygian Abyss. They force your opponent to react to you, creating the decisions that are so common when playing against Cryx, where your opponent can’t get a leg up.

What is so frustrating about them, though, is their vulnerability. For all their ability to gain stealth, their combined 24 HP, their 16 defense and their unparalleled freedom of activations, they are incredibly hard to keep alive, and there are some insanely hard matchups out there.  If the enemy is allowed to build momentum, especially after the feat, there is little chance for the coven to really survive the onslaught. Unlike most casters in the Cryx stable, the Coven does very little to increase the potency of the faction, with Curse of Shadows their only reliable debuff, and no offensive buffs at all. Even their feat doesn’t help the Cryx army kill better, its simply extrapolates on the theme of delivery.

They key, as obvious as it is to state, of the Coven is getting your models to the enemy as fast as possible, and that means taking models that really matter once they are delivered. The Coven loves self sufficient models that can get tons of work done once delivered . However, the Covens fragility means you can’t typically wait out the enemy attrition style and that a single miscalculation or a solid play by the opponent can leave you on the back foot, leading to your eventual downfall. It only takes a RAT 9 (7 aiming!) POW 13 attack to remove a Witch from the board. While the models that ignore stealth are rare, its not impossible for those numbers to be able to draw a bead on one or more members, or even the Egregore.

Instead, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Coven army wants to be as deep into the enemy’s half of the board as possible, as fast as possible, and it has four major effects on how you play the army.

First, the opponent comes out of the gate reacting to you which immediately gives you tempo advantage, enabling you to capitalize on both your spell list and your feat. Good feat timing in this situation can drop the hammer on the opponent both mitigating their best possible turn and enabling you to overtake their position and get carve deep into their belly.

Second, it gives the Coven breathing room. The Witches want to be able to sit comfortably at the back of your army and make sure they reach the enemy. With their ability to vanish off the board at the slightest glance of an enemy model, keeping them as far back as possible is key. They still want to threaten scenario, however, and allowing them to get in position to dominate either zone at a moments notice is the first step to that, with keeping the opponent on their side of the table, is the first step to that.

Third, playing off the theme above, it allows them to play a fantastic scenario game. Its much less difficult to control or dominate scenario zones and destroy objectives when the battle lines are drawn nearly completely past the zones. It can also allow for a very sudden end to a game, provided your willing to sacrifice one of your witches. Dominating from a vulnerable position matters much less if loosing your warcaster does not loose you the game, especially if you know you can just repeat the domination next round whether they remove your Witch or not.

Fourth, and finally, it puts their warcaster in a very large bind. They can either try and put themselves into the game, therfore exposing themselves not only to your army, but to the very real Spell Assassination that the Coven represent, Or they can try and hide near their own table edge.  While the assassination aspect of the Coven has been toned down a bit since the MKI heyday (Perfect Conjunction providing boosted hit and damage, and Stygian Abyss being P+S 13 with Crit Blind), it can still get the job done with a little help, and a single Shadow Bind crit can really make sure it does the job next turn. Three boosted damage POW 12’s seriously threaten arm 18 or less, averaging 15 damage against ARM 18. Three boosted to hit Pow 12’s have a ~82% chance that the model is pinned in place suffering -3 defense for a round,Both circumstances are scary at best, and can be used against almost every defense and armor value, due to the crit and high starting hit value.

This leads me to value, in a coven list, things that are both fast and defensive, with abilities that make the opponent unable to engage how they would like.

The three that really jump out to me are: Soulhunters, Satyxis Raiders, and Blackbanes Ghost Raiders. Each of these is speed 7 or greater, has ways to mitigate terrain, and innate defensive tech. Though Darragh Wrathe is required for the Soulhunters to get full use out of them, Ghost Walk can somewhat make up for not having him in the list. That eats a large portion of your 50 point standard list. Normally the challenge would be to get to the opponent on your terms, but we’ve covered the spell list.

With Raiders, UA, Captian, Soulhunters, Blackbanes, and Darragh, you’ve ate a massive 34 points. The addition of three arcnodes, two Warwitch Sirens, and a Scarlock eat a further 18 points that gives you a total of three points to play around with, don’t you feel lucky! Aiakos fits right in there, and with his four focus, stealth, 11.5″ walking threat, he fits right in!

As I said up top, I really think that the Coven holds a fantastic spot in Cryx. Yes, they have their problems, including the ever prevalent blast damage, no ability to change the Cryxian to hit probability, and the threat of Killbox on scenarios, but their capacity to step outside of the standard Cryx attrition or armor crack list makes them feel just a little roguish. I’m not convinced I should play them competitively, but I’m sure as hell going to test them out!

 

 

I’ve gotten a number of games in recently, and I really feel the reust shaking itself loose. It only taken 13 games.

Starting up with Deneghra probably helped a ton. She’s one of the better casters in Cryx, with a crippling suite of spells and a killer feat. With Deneghra, the solution has always been her feat and/or Crippling Grasp to enable a big swing play. Jumping over to the Witch Coven twice over the weekend, though, each with a different list, and I really struggled sometime to figure out how to deal with problems.

I’m putting down Deneghra for a little bit, and I think I’ve gotten the Mechanithrall boat kind under my thumb. There are some other combinations I want to try, but they have to wait until I get more Brute Thralls and my Scarlock Commanders. I did get two games in, however, before the hiatus. Both these games and the games with Witch Coven was with the Outflank scenario, as I am trying to get used to it for spelldraft.

The first game was against a the Rhulic caster that I have seen the most of, General Ossrum. The list contained Steelheads, Forgeguard, Alexia and the Earthbreaker, among others. I was able to stonewall him out of both zones. The Mechanithralls swarmed over the right zone supported by the Necrosurgeons and jammed up his Steelheads right outside of the zone. I sent my Bane Knights lurking to the edge of the Left zone, threatening both the slower Forgeguard and Risen with spears through the chest. Though he targeted both the Necrosurgeons and stitch thralls early on, reducing their efficiancy, they managed to stick around long enough to ensure the victory through weight of bodies.

I will say that the Earthbreaker, both times I fought it, was scary as hell. Had I not had a caster with stealth, I would have soiled my shorts. Casters like Asphyxious, Scaverous and Venethrax are just walking gun bait with their medium bases. While I generally despise camping as a casters main strategy, I can’t see any other way to live through the land-torpedoes and the bullets of that army and that colossal.

Reznik, wrath of ages

the final game with Deneghra was against Reznik 2, who I’d not even read his rules since he was spoiled back in February. The list was not your typical Protectorate list, having  Flamebringers, Daughters of the Flame, Judicator, Temple Flame Guard and some support staff.  I modified the list above,  with two full units of Mechanithralls and Necrosurgeons, Nightmare, and a few support solos and arc nodes. I’d  also just got Aiakos built and has started painting him, so I figured I’d toss him in the list as well. I burdend him with three ‘Jacks: two Stalkers and the Cankerworm. The game was back and forth for the first two turns, but really hinged on a pair of failed rolls my opponent made that lead to both my Necrosurgeons alive, creating new Mechanithralls, and tossing them into Judicator, softening it up so that when Nightmare got in there, he could finish him off. With Nightmare  now 5″ from the Wrath of Ages, under Deneghras feat, we called it and packed up for the night.

That was my first time breaking out Aiakos (turns out, pronounced ay-Ah-kos), and I make a rookie mistake with him, loading him up with jacks that are all hungry for focus. The Stalker and the Cankerworm both have two initial attacks with low P+S and good speed, begging for charges and boosts. With only FOC 4, he’s just not able to fuel them efficiently. It also could be the targets I ended up taking on as well, trying to attack Daughters of the Flame and Nicia. While MAT 7 is pretty good for a Warjack,  needing 8’s and 9’s to hit was brutal, even boosted. I’ll need to try and get better match ups if I want to get back to even running all three jacks. I also really messed up my theory of Stalkers with him. I ‘d assumed that he’d be able to scare casters with two of them, but as I discovered above, he can’t properly fuel two Warjacks. There may be some merit in rocketing one off into a caster,getting Grievous wound to trigger and then repeating with the second the following turn, but I’d have to give it more testing. I wasn’t even good at getting the Escort bonus, and that was the whole reason I brought along Cankerworm. I’m pretty sure that this grouping is just going to go into the idea box for later testing, maybe with just the stalkers.

I then broke out the Coven on Saturday. I figured it was time to start practicing with the caster I was going to bring to spelldraft. Even though its impossible to practice drafting and using the spells, I want to get used to setting them up right, getting them into position, and utilizing the scenario. I figured the army didn’t actually matter all too much, so I’d grab Aiakos and build a list based off of the Coven Tier I’d talked about a few days ago. I’d been thinking about what to give Aiakos after the last debacle, and the Harrower really stood out.  He could make great use of both Escort and Deathbringers. Under escort, he’d be SPD 7, MAT 6, P+S 16, with reach, thresher, soul taker, pathfinder and steady. behind the army, giving ranged support, he’d be SPD 7, RNG 10, RAT 5, AOE 3, POW 14, with ghost shot and pathfinder.  Aiakos’ ability to give  up to three focus a turn, and potentially give the Perisher Grievous Wounds, its seemed a match made in heaven. I decided because I wanted to play him, I’d have to go outside of Tier.

iron-mother

The  game I got in with the list was against Iron Mother Directrix. It was the first time I saw Convergence across the board and I was pretty excited about figuring them out. The list contained a slew of servitors, Prime Axiom, Reciprocators, an Assimiltor and some general support and utility model. I packed the Jam: Satyxis, Soulhunters, and Blackbanes, backed up by a pair of arc nodes, some light support staff, and Aiakos with the Harrower. I won the game on scenario, but only because my opponent failed a set of die rolls on the critical push turn. I’d managed to pull ahead on scenario the turn earlier dominating one zone and controling the other. I only needed to clear and dominate one zone, and I was able  to do that by capitalizing on him being unable to kill even a single model on his turn and get enough models into the zone that I couldn’t just kill them and  and dominate with the Coven.

The Harrower and Aiakos were the stars of the show. I was able to dig the Harrower into the center of the Reciprocators and,  loaded with focus and souls, clean them out over two turns. Being able to boost to damage was a godsend, allowing me to gather more souls for attacks.  I was really impressed with what a speed 7 Harrower with 3 focus was able to do, and I really look forward to getting that combo more playtime on the table. The rest of the army will be subject to much scrutiny, and suffice it to say here, I’m not keeping the same list.

The second fight that day was against a completely different Reznik, Wrath of Ages list that I’d played with Deneghra. This time the list has Forgeguard, a Devout and Redeemer on Tristan, Flameguard, the Avatar and a Reckoner.  I pulled out the Kraken Auguries of War tier list mentioned earlier. Much like the game played just over a week earlier, he missed critical attacks on the turn he needed to not fail. Two pairs of daughters at MAT 10 were unable to kill or even hit a set of Soulhunter, and I was able to take down Servath Reznik. He insists that I could have had scenario, had I chosen to take it, but I’m not as confident as he is. His left flank boasted an Avatar, Reckoner, Tristian, and a Redeemer, and I has a Kraken and the Coven. While I could hide the Coven for a short time, eventually Gaze would trap me in and I’d loose at least one member, and that would start the downhill slide. I’m also very convinced that the avatar would have split the Kraken right open.

I’m extraordinarily excited to be playing Warmachine again, and I’ll be getting a game in again tonight. I’ve yet to figure out who I am going to play, but I’m positive its gonna be a cryx caster. I’m even fairly sure its either Sturgis or Coven, too.

 

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.

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Since the release of the Thralls of the Blackship Exhumation and the Umber Guard lists in Mark I theme lists have been an option in Warmachine. Personally, I don’t even think I tried one in MK I, and I in no way regret it. Those two were strange, bizarre abominations, and I’d finally gotten competent enough in Cryx to feel comfortable testing the waters right around when MK II hit the ground, so I was still struggling to get my Cryx feat under me.

MK II, coincidentally, brought some viable theme lists. Instead of being faction based, though, they were tailored to each caster, and for the whole of the MK II release cycle, people wondered what they were going to get in their theme lists, and how their favorite ‘Caster or ‘Lock was going to be represented.

Unfortunately, this lead to heaps of anticipation that could not ever be matched. With MK II just coming out and Privateer in its cautious release phase, many of the theme lists were doomed to underwhelm. Each book was greeted with less and less overall enthusiasm for the Theme lists printed within, though prior to each book the furor would build all over again.

There are some tier lists in each book that still see serious tabletime. Each of these does something so brutal, and fits so powerfully with both the caster and the theme of the army being portrayed that it just sticks. Most of them, to further compound the issue, are spam lists, enabling multitudes of powerful units that are normally restricted or allowing multiple restricted UA’s where you would only get one.
Noteable examples:
Goreshade II: Heresy of Shadows
Butcher II: Mad Dogs of War
Mortenebra: Infernal Machines
Epic Keoss: Crusaders of Sul
Zaal: Immortal Host

Each of these allows you to toss as many of some of the highest value models in the faction at your opponent as you can fit in a list. Who can resist more Bane Thralls, Doomreavers, Heavy Warjacks, Knights Exemplar and Immortals!

The problem with many of the other lists is that they suffer from one of two seriously problematic issues that cause the faction balance to snap. Either the list lacks a crucial model or unit that causes the faction to function correctly, or they suffer from lack of hitting power. Those that aren’t suffering from list composition issues suffer from the additional problem of limited bonuses for adhering to the lists. There are only four bonuses to give out, and they come with increasingly stringent restrictions. Sometimes its worth it, but most of the time, it is not. The reason spam lists work is because instead of limiting your options, it opens certain options up, and this can lead to some very powerful synergies.

Most theme lists, therefore, end up on the wayside. The age of the colossal has amplified that, as many people look for way to cope with these giant masters of the battlefield. Most theme lists don’t allow you the tools that you need to deal with these beasts.

which leads my to my decision to take another look at the theme lists of Cryx through different lens. Ones that I have specifically discarded due to lacking in ways to deal with heavy armor have a large, powerful friend: The Kraken.

Kraken

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.

The Kraken is an interesting Cryx option in lists where the standard heavy hitters might not be available. We tend to rely on Bane Thralls, Deathjack, and layered spells to get the job done, with the odd mercenary here and there to make it go. The problem was that both the Bane Thralls and the Deathjack can, and do, easily get scooped out of theme lists. One is a character, and the other is many times not in theme. The Kraken is, with one exception, available to tier lists. It is a massive points investment, but its a seriously strong piece that I love in the Cryx arsenal. Its also self sufficient in many ways, fueling itself while killing infantry, and saving those tokens to kill heavies when needed. Its guns, though, are the cherry in the cheesecake. Just having that ranged presence in Cryx is phenomenal.

The list that really has me considering the Kraken in theme lists as a problem solver, albeit an expensive one, is the The Witch Coven of Garlghast: Auguries of War.

I originally played this list, with its FA:2 Soulhunters, before Wrath released. At that time, I found it to be a little light on the smash, if you will. With Bane Knights, Soul Hunters, and Blood Witches, it could really get around the army, but if they brought an army that was not possible to get around, it was kind of stalled out. The Kraken is the biggest can opener I have in the faction.

The list I have come up with is probably going to fail horribly, but I feel it brings a Trio of threats to the table that just have to be dealt with.

First, the list:

The Witch Coven of Garlghast

The Witch Coven of Garlghast +5
-Kraken19
-Nightwretch4
-Nightwretch4
-Scarlock Thrall2
Soulhunters (5)9
Soulhunters (5)9
Darragh Wrathe4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Total: 50

The first thing I notice about the list is that everything, baring 4 models, is speed 7 or faster, with the application of Infernal Machine on the Kraken. This gives me incredible speed advantage going first, and counter-deploy options and scenario presence on turn 2. This is also a list that will make a mockery of anything that specifically tries to deny its maneuverability. The Kraken has pathfinder, the Coven has Ghostwalk, and the Soulhunters are incorporeal during their activation. The Coven can also toss out Curse of Shadows, Occultation,  Veil of Mists, and Stygian Abyss to make sure I get into position with whatever resources I need to get the win.

Getting the win, it turns out, can come in a few simple packages. The first is what I will call “The Soulhunter Surprise.” Soulhunters, as mentioned, under Darragh Wrathe are incorporeal during their activation. Cavalry has Tall in the Saddle, allowing them to ignore small based models when declaring a charge. The Coven has Curse of Shadows, allowing models to move through units, but also nullifying anything that has magic weapons from making free strikes. Finally, the tier list benefit is a free soul token on each of the Soul Hunters at the start of the game. Given that Soulhunters have an 11″ charge range, with a 13″ threat from reach and an additional +1″ from Darragh, I can foreseeable get at a target (say, the Warcaster/Warlock) well behind the front lines, and not even worry about the front lines. The soulhunters, due to Cavalry rules and the soul bonus, will be at MAT 8 + 3d6 and doing 13+3d6 damage with the charge, and 11+2d6 if in 1/2″ melee, and another POW 10 from the mount.  If I can get an arc node back to the caster, I can drop Stygian Abyss on the target, Follow it up with Curse of Shadows, and bring that up to MAT 11 +3d6 and pow 15+3d6. I don’t think many casters will survive 3-4 of those. Back it up with a Stygian Abyss hit or two, and a shot or three from the Kraken, and your really looking at some serious assassination potential.

The second option for victory is control points. There are certain armies that will just not be fast enough to challenge this list, and with everything up 14″ or greater past my deployment zone, I can really push the scenario hard. Jamming with def 14, arm 15 large bases with 5 wounds might not always work, but with the Kraken and the spell slingers right behind, I’m betting its going to be seriously in contention. I can dominate with a single Coven Member, and control with Warwitch Sirens if that is the plan. The Kraken at MAT 8 with speed 7 as a second wave can be extremely scary to face off against.

The last opportunity for victory is the the traditional Stygian Abyss method. Get three boosted to hit/damage pow 12’s on the caster and either pin them in place, or kill them out right. Either one works and can allow the Kraken or the Soulhunters to finish the job.

As much as I like my newly painted Aiakos, this list is going to have to get at least a run through this weekend when I get to roll out and play some games!

 

I hope I can punch this out in a timely manner, Battle reports seem to take a lot longer than I’d like.

Over the past two weeks I’ve managed to play two separate games of Warmachine, One against Circle, and the other Against Protectorate. I used the same list both times, Run by my good friend Deneghra

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This year at Lock and Load, I am mostly going to be playing in the Iron Arena, but there was a specific concept that really grabbed me from the get go, and I’ve really decided that tournament is something I’m actually going to be really trying to make work. It’ll be probably the only reason I bring Cryx along with my Motley Gators all the way to Seattle, so I want to make it worthwhile, and its going to eat most of Friday.

What is Spelldraft? Well, In a nutshell you get to pick a list and caster, but don’t get any of their spells, good or bad. You get broken up into groups of 8, in which each person is given a pack of 8 cards, and you draft them one at a time, passing the pack of spells to the next person in line once you’ve got yours.

This, to me, opens up all sorts of cool combinations. Some casters are held back by their sub-par spell list, and could be a monster with the right spells in their arsenal, while others are built around signature spells that make them hum, and may become duds.

There are a pair of questions that I’ve not yet had answered in any really good way about the format that have me both terrified and curious.

1) Are the packs randomized spells, or is there some structure to them. Looking over the rules, no one mentions anywhere anything about randomization. This is an enormous factor. If its random, you can get packs with both Temporal Barrier and Iron Flesh. Arcane Shield and Purification. That means that you’re making some serious decisions about what card you pull and what card you pass on to the next players. It also means, however, that the pack could contain 2 rifts, 3 Influences, Arcane Blast, Dust to Dust and Arcantrix Bolt. While Some people may get more or less use out of all those spells, many will not. If you end up with a dead slot, and someone else has all 8 useable spells, that can be a really tricky setup to overcome. This sets up nicely into number 2.

2) is every spell going to be represented, or will there be multiple of the same spells, or will only certain versions of an effect be used? This is the one that poses the most problems when trying to plan out a list. If I know all the “superpowered” spells, the Bombs, to steal a term from the MTG drafts, are going to be cut I’ve got a pretty solid thought process on what I want. If every pod of players is going to draft the same 64 spells. with some 370+ spells, I can imagine there is a great amount of wiggle room here, That gives us nearly 7 pods of 8 to work with, without any duplication.

There are a lot of really bonkers combinations out there: Harbinger + Temporal Barrier; Terminus + Train Wreck, Reznik, Wrath of Ages + Tow. I don’ think, however, with that many spells and combinations, you can really bank on getting one spell, or even one type of spell. Take the Coven or Scaverous for instance: they both have a method to reduce their spells cost by 1. There are plenty of 2 cost nukes in the game, but even if there are 30, if they use the whole 370, thats only 8% of the field. Divide that 8% over 6 pods, and you’ve got a very slim chance of seeing even one of them. People will, no doubt end up with their favored combinations through luck, chance and skill, but I’m pretty sure I am not going to bank on that.

The list building part is pretty simple, really. Take stuff that is self sufficient, that holds its own, and can do what it needs to do with no spell support from the caster. Thankfully, Cryx has a ton of unit and solo support that works very well together without spells from the caster.
Unfortunately, that leaves our jacks to be kinda shunted to the side. I don’t think Aiakos will be legal then either. My basic list, baring some tweaks after I look into things, is this:

Bane Thralls
-UA
Bile Thralls
Bane Lord Tartarus
Nightwretch
Nightwretch
Leviathan

I have three points left over to spend on something, but its my first pass.
Everything there is just good. Nothing is chaff and there to take up only space. The Leviathan is especially key, because if the draft goes south, I still have a plan. Everything works without spells, Nightwretches could be upgraded to Ripjaws, as well. No frills, but also none of the utility I am so used to. This part seems simple to me.

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

where I see a problem is a clash of strategies when it comes to the draft, and therefore the army building itself. Everyone is going to be fighting to get and hold those good spells, and they aren’t going to be passed unless they have something better in their pack. If you don’t get it in the first or second pull, expect it to be shitty, or something that is undervalued, and I think that a list built on cards that are typically undervalued except by the right casters could be a real winner. Bring a caster and a pile of cheap jacks, and the Withershadow combine. Full Throttle, Superiority and other spells become your friend, and other will probably not have build for them. Bring a caster that focus’ on direct damage spells and try to leverage them through.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky though. Betting on a better, all around plan seems to be another way to really get the gears going. Take a caster that is suitable in Melee, that doesn’t rely on any spells to get the job done. Have them have a gun. Make sure they have Battlegroup support build into their card. Have a good feat for 35 points, and build a self sufficient army. Make sure you have at least one arc node. Grab every spell that looks the smallest bit good. This seems a really good way to hedge your bets, but I think it’ll fall to the created skew lists that take advantage of undervalued cards.

I’ve lumped the Cryx casters into several broad categories, though I am willing to entertain dissension of these categories.

Looks Good:
Skarre II: Seems to have all the tools to fill the second, generalist option. Seas of fate, blood trade, her feat , lifetrader and a hand cannon make her a standout.
Asphyxious I: His feat refills his focus, and with some of the fantastic 2 point spells out there, he could really be killer. In addition, anything that boosts his initial threat range of 11″ to something more reasonable could see him with a significant melee threat.
Goreshade I: Free bane thralls as a feat? No rules on the back of the card to make him need specific spells, with no good spells of his own? The only way is up!
Goreshade II: His feat is great, and his weapon is good. Automnatc stationary is like sustained attack, above.
Deneghra: Her feat and stealth combine for some really good synergy without a spell list.
The Witch Coven: I really like that they can make spells cheaper every turn. With the Withershadow, Warwitches, Scarlock and Deathjack, I could turn it into a massive focus factory. They still suffer the same problems here, though, that they do everywhere else, and will die to any sort of attack. Thankfully, there is no killbox, and no reason for the girls to get close.

Looks Bad
Deneghra II: Feat is good on its own, and Dark Banishing is pretty great, but the rest of her oomph is in her spell list.
Mortenebra: Interface and Repair are good, but there is just something here that screams that she needs more from her spells than I would be able to make up.
Asphyxious II: He would be a literal Feat with legs. most of his greatness comes from Hellbound, Parasite, and Caustic Mist. No thanks.
Lich Lord Terminus: Him only being a MAT 17 Pow 16 without Malediction really hurts. Tough is good, as is the 10″ spray and Sac-pawn, but I’ll pass.

No Thanks
Lich Lord Venethrax: With a small feat to begin with, and all of his muscle tied up in some really great spells, he’s just got nothing going for him.
Scaverous: Wile his feat is an amazing spectacle, the Def 14, arm 17 caster on a medium base with no set spell list is a really dicey proposal.
Skarre I: Her feat is gangbusters, but without her Sacrificial Lamb factory and Dark Guidance, I don’t think she can cut it.

I’ve got a lot of choices to make here on out, and I’m not completely sure about any of them!